If you have talked to an SEO company in Auckland about improving your website’s search engine rankings, or you have read about the topic on the internet, you have probably come across the term duplicate content.
Mentions of duplicate content are almost always negative. In other words, duplicate content is something you should avoid as much as possible.
Let’s delve into the topic a bit further to get a better understanding.
xWhat Is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content in relation to SEO is content that appears in multiple internet locations (an internet location is a URL, i.e. a unique website page/address). This is an important point to understand as a location is not your overall website. Instead, it is a single page on your website.
In other words, if you have content on your website that is repeated on different pages, Google regards this as duplicate content.
Here is Google’s definition:
"Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar."
Is Duplicate Content Bad for SEO
So, is duplicate content bad, good, or unimportant? The answer depends on the type of duplicate content you are talking about.
For example, Google accepts there are situations where duplicate content is okay. The examples it gives include discussion forums, some product listings on e-commerce websites, and print versions of website pages.
What Google doesn’t like, however, is duplicate content on a website where the purpose is to achieve a better position in Google search. A simple example is someone creating a page on their website by simply copying and pasting content from another website.
From Google’s perspective, this results in poor user experience, i.e. a poor experience for Google’s user. Always remember when considering issues related to SEO that users of Google search are Google’s number one priority.
If you take the issue of duplicate content to the extreme, Google could have a search results page with 10 listings, all of which contain the same content. You can understand why Google believes this is not good user experience.
What Does Google Do with Duplicate Content?
As duplicate content delivers poor experience for search users, Google takes steps to always deliver content to users that is unique. It does this in a number of ways:
- For content that is legitimately duplicated, as in the examples above, Google will decide which version of the content to show
- For content that is not legitimately duplicated, particularly content that appears to be an attempt to deliberately deceive search engines, Google says "the ranking of the site may suffer". This means anything from giving it a low position on search results pages to removing the website from Google’s index altogether.
The second situation above will directly impact your online marketing efforts. However, there are other indirect and less clear-cut negative impacts that result from duplicate content. This includes:
- If two versions of the same piece of content exist, Google will try to decide which of the two is most relevant. This is bad for both pages as both are likely to be seen less.
- Your pages may get fewer links as a website that could give you a link will have multiple versions of the same content to choose from. They may not choose yours. As links are of crucial importance to SEO, this is something you should be concerned about.
What You Should Do?
As you can see, while there are some situations where duplicate content on your website is acceptable, it is something you should generally try to avoid. Whether you work with an SEO company or not, aim to make all the content on your website unique.