You may have heard this before, and if you haven’t, you might want to read a little more about it: duplicate content can hurt your website’s rankings and even your business’s credibility. Before we get into why, let’s first define duplicate content so you know exactly what we’re discussing.
What is duplicate content?
Simply put, duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place anywhere on the internet. So, let’s say you have one old website with a bunch of content, and you want to start a new website. You come up with the idea of saving time by copying all your old content to your new site.
Well, unfortunately, that’s duplicate content. But why is this a bad thing?
First of all, search engines want to show people the most relevant results to their queries. But when they find two sites with the exact same content, they’re not sure how to rank them. Which site is more relevant? One site may have more “authority” (typically the older site), causing the search engines to favor that site over another. This can have adverse effects if you’re trying to market a new website. Furthermore they tend to only index one of the two pages, so once this is done, it can be difficult to fix.
Second, if search engines don’t know how to index a page, you can be certain other sites won’t know which page to link to, either. Some sites might choose to link to one page, while another site might link to the same article on your other site. This spreads traffic between the sites and creates confusion among the visitors.
How can you fix duplicate content?
If you’ve figured out that you have duplicate content by now, you probably want to know how to fix it. Well, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that it IS fixable. You can use a number of methods to ensure search engines know which version of your site is the correct one.
The bad news is that it isn’t always easy for the average business owner to do—both in terms of time and resources. The most effective methods involve changing coding in your website and pages.
The coding solutions include: using a 301 redirect to the URL you want to use; an attribute tag “rel=canonical”, or changing settings in the Google Search Console section of your webmaster tools to set a preferred domain. These are beyond the scope of this article, but you can check out articles on Google and Moz if you’re interested in learning more about these tactics.
But there are ways you can help without coding skills! As a website owner, you can take these following steps to ensure the search engines index the correct version of your site:
Always link to your own website consistently. Don’t link to one domain sometimes, and to another domain others. Keep it consistent throughout your website, and this will help with ranking.
Report any sites using your content as their own. Sometimes duplicate content exists as a result of people stealing your own original work—not because of anything you did. This article has a great walkthrough of how to get your stolen content removed from the offending source.
If all of this seems overwhelming, you can always talk to our personal marketing consultants about your concerns. We can help you come up with solutions that work with your budget.
And there you have it! We hope you found this article helpful!