After mastering the art of writing content for your site, the next step to be aware of is demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the disadvantages of having duplicate content on site.

What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content is large blocks of identical or similar content that has been published in more than one place on a particular URL. In terms of duplicate content and SEO effects, this can act as a negative that Google frowns upon. Whilst duplicate content is not explicitly a Google penalty unless the sole purpose is to attempt to manipulate the search results to gain more traffic, it’s good practice to clearly show your preferred version and prevent alternative pages from being shown.

Why should I care?

As stated previously, there are currently NO penalties for duplicate content on site.

To clear up the duplicate content penalty myth up even further, Google’s Matt Cutts explained how around 25-30% of content on the web is duplicated content. This can derive from taking a quotation and linking back to the original content or having two similar documents.

In this video, Cutts explains how you should not panic if this is the case. As long as the duplicated content is not seeking to deceive the search rankings, Google’s algorithm is programmed to recognise this issue and not alter rankings as a result. However, if it is the case that your site is attempting to influence the rankings, Google has the right to take immediate action on these spammy practices and can remove your site from the SERPs.

How to find duplicate content on your site?

There are many tools across the web that can enable you to analyse any duplicate articles flagged across your site. The following tools will be outlined;

CopyScape

This well-established plagiarism and duplicate content checker frequent monitors the web for copies of your content and automatically notifies when found.  CopyScape’s sister site, Siteliner, takes this one step further and has the ability to scan internal sites for broken links, redirections and creates XML sitemaps.

The ease of this process is simple. It starts by easily copying your website URL into the browser below, and almost instantly will flag up how many results are displaying matching content. This process can help in having some piece of mind of unique content on site or to just do a quick duplicate content check to act on.

Manually in Google

Whilst a duplicate content checker tool can be extremely straightforward, another alternative is to simply search on your preferred search engine. By taking a small snippet of text, approximately 32 words, and searching with Google, this will deliver similar results to your search query that match up. This is an extremely simple, yet effective method of searching the web for duplicated content.

How to fix duplicate content issues

When attempting to mend SEO issues with duplicate content, the initial step is to decide what one piece of content is the most appropriate one. Therefore, each duplicated version should be canonicalized for a search engine benefit. This helps to consolidate duplicate URLs and to make the crawler aware of the version you want crawled and to appear in the search results.

301 redirect

In the many scenarios, the optimal way to overcome duplicated content issues is to implement a 301 redirect. By actioning one URL as the canonical, you can then use 301 redirects to send traffic from the other URLs to your subsequent preferred URL. This has been regarded as the most accurate way to ensure users are directed to the right page, whilst also to end the competition of multiple similar pages competing with each other.

Rel=”canonical”

A rel=”canonical” tag is very similar to a 301 redirect but does not require a high level of technical SEO knowledge. This attribute can be found in the head element of a page and targeted toward the preferred URL, which can noticeably prevent duplicate content issues.

Meta robots no index/ follow tag

The reason this tag is a recommendation is that the noindex value tells a search engine to refrain from indexing a page, which in turn removes duplicate articles. The follow element of the tag lets search engines still follow the links on the page, which allows the value of the link to continue to pass through.

Using a sitemap

The XML sitemap solution is especially useful for larger sites, as sitemaps can easily display to Google what pages are considered the most important on site. By selecting a canonical URL for each page and submitting them to Google Search Console in a sitemap, this will help the crawler decide if there are any duplicates on site. However, that being said, Google has noted that they do not necessarily guarantee the consideration of sitemap URLs to replace, but it can bring many benefits.

Duplicated Content on YouTube

Very recently, YouTube reported that they are cracking down on duplicative content on their video-based platform. When you’re a YouTube partner, you must abide by the Community Guidelines and provide content that adds value to the user that is relevant to what the consumer is searching for.

YouTube details that if you have noticed a duplicate upload message, or your channel being removed that it may be a result of…

 

uploading content from multiple sources or repurpose existing content, you may still be eligible for YPP policy so long as you’re contributing to the value of that content in some way. For example, if you add significant original commentary, educational value, narrative, or high-quality editing, then your channel may be fine to monetize”

 

Examples of YouTube Duplicate Content:

  • Has been uploaded multiple times by a large number of users, to whilst you are not the uploader of the video
  • No content or story behind the video that has been pulled from 3rd party sources
  • Seems to be produced automatically, and without purpose
  • Appears to try to manipulate our partner guidelines

 

How to fix YouTube duplicate content issues

Similar to Google, YouTube informs their users of the best practices. Therefore, to be reconsidered to be admitted back into the Partner Program, it’s essential to follow to latter points:

  • On your website, link back to your associated YouTube channel
  • Supply a greater content about the work in your actual video and throughout your YouTube channel descriptions
  • Include a running commentary in your YouTube videos – either voicing or subtitles on the screen
  • Ensure your YouTube videos align with the associated policies, including the YouTube Partner Program, AsSense policies and Community Guidelines

 

Have you found this beginner’s guide helpful with understanding duplicate content? Have you understood how to find duplicate content on your site? Let us know in the comments below, check out our comprehensive glossary or have a read of additional informative blogs here.

Georgie Kemp

SEO Analyst

Georgie is a BA Marketing graduate from Nottingham Trent University working as an SEO Analyst. She works carefully to assist SEO executives and strategists to achieve the best possible results for clients, both on and off-page.

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