Duplicate content hurts search rank. If it becomes a manipulative practice in Google search results, Google might rank down your site or remove from search results or ban your site (in serious cases). So, in your SEO practices, you need a clear understanding of duplicate content, its issues and solutions. This is an article to simplify the Google’s article about duplicate content.
What is duplicate content?
According to Google, duplicate content generally refers to these types of content:
Substantive blocks of content found in repetition in your site. It may be the identical pages found in your site due to your mistakes or the site structure generated by your content management system.
Content in your site may also be found in other sites – wholly the same or appreciably similar. This includes deceptive content found duplicating in several domains to manipulate search engine results.
According to Google, the following types of duplicate content are not malicious:
Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
Store items or products shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
Printer-only versions of web pages
How duplicate content become manipulative practices?
Google says that duplicated content done intentionally across many websites in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic become malicious due to the fact that these deceptive practices can result in a poor user experience when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.
Google tries to remove the duplicated content from the search results to show the original content. So, a site’s ranking may suffer or the site might be removed completely from Google’s database in the interest of Google users.
What you should do if your site is found with duplicate content according to Google?
Canonicalization: If you find that your site contains identical pages, tell Google the preferred URL. For example, your Homepage can be reached by these URLs: www.example.com, example.com, example.com/index.html or www.example.com/index.html. In this case, use canonicalization to your preferred URL.
301 Redirects: If you want still to keep an important URL and want to tell the browser to open another page instead of it, use 301 redirects in your .htaccess file to redirect visitors and Google spiders. If you run your site on WordPress, you can do it easily with a plugin.
Consistent Linking: Use the same URL in internal linking. Suppose, you might open the same page with two different URLs such as http://www.example.com/page/ and http://www.example.com/page/index.htm. Always use the same URL for linking to that page.
Top-level domains: If you have country specific content and want to rank on Google, use top level domains. For example, Google ranks an Indian specific content of www.example.in higher than www.in.example.com.
Content Syndication: Content syndication improves ranking. It is done by placing a shortened form of your original content in your site at other domains. But when you syndicate, ensure to put a link back with noindex meta tag to your original content to block Google from indexing the syndicated content.
Preferred Domain: To avoid of duplicate content issues with your domain, tell Google your preferred domain. For example, Google may see your site with both http://www.example.com and http://example.com. Tell Google only your preferred domain with the help of Google Webmaster Tools.
Boilerplate repetition: It is wrong to include a lengthy text on every page of your site for giving some notice to your visitors. Instead of it, use a very short text and link to a page with all the details you want to mention. You can also use the Parameter Handling tool to specify how you would like Google to treat URL parameters.
Placeholder Pages: If your page is not ready for users, don’t publish it. If you do so, use noindex meta tag.
Content Management System: You might use a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc. You should know how it displays content. Check if it displays the same content multiple times somewhere at homepage, archive page and other pages.
Similar content: If you have many similar content, merge them into one or expand each page to be unique for minimizing the duplicate content issues. For example, if you tell about two persons with similar content, tell about both of them in a single page.
Mark duplicate contents: If you found duplicated URLs in your site, tell Google they are duplicates by implementing the rel=”canonical” link tag or 301 redirects.
How Google treats duplicate content?
Duplicate content on a site is not a problem unless it appears to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. Google tries to show a version of the content.
What to do if your site has been penalized for duplicate content?
Check your site if there is any issue of duplication. If yes, review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for more information. In the guidelines, you’ll learn about Google’s Design and content guidelines, Technical guidelines and Quality guidelines. Understanding the guidelines, you can avoid of Google’s penalties. Make changes until you are confident that there is no issue with your site. Then, submit your site for reconsideration. In some cases, you may find some websites duplicate your content without your permission. In such cases, contact the site owners or file a request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
It might be interested to you to use some free tools available online for checking duplicate content. Try the following tools:
1. Plagiarism Checker checks the originality of any article.
2. Article Checker scans your web pages for others who may have copied it.
3. Duplichecker uses different search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo to discover the duplicate content.
4. Plagiumchecks whether the content is unique or not across web, news and social networks.
5. Plagspotterdetects and monitors duplicate content on your site.
6. Copyscape might be the best free tool to check duplicate content. Its results are accurate, fast and reliable.
Even without using the above tools, you can check duplicate content manually in the following ways:
1. intitle: Search Operator
This search operator looks for duplicate content in the page titles. In Google search box, type intitle: your search phrase within “”. If Google finds any duplicate page titles matching with your search phrases, it will show you. Check them.
2. inurl: Search Operator
Just like you did with intitle search operator above, you can look for duplicate content searching in the URLs across the web.
3. Webmaster Tools
Use Google Webmaster tools and enable Google to notify you if they detect a duplicate content issue. If you got a message, check it.
4. Quoted Text
Copy some texts from your original content and paste in Google search box with quotation marks. If found, Google will tell you the pages containing your texts.
If you have any comment about this article and duplicate content, please leave your valuable comments.
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