Acquiring a high ranking on search engines is one of the most efficient ways to gain online visibility and bigger online traffic. Google often awards unique, relevant, and high-quality content. So, what happens if you upload a piece of content that has several similar or even completely the same versions online? Here’s what duplicate content is and how it can affect your SEO.
What is Duplicate Content?
According to Google’s definition, duplicate content refers to substantive pieces of content within or across domains that are similar or even completely matched in their content. In most cases, this type of content is not deceptive in its nature. Duplicate content usually appears in multiple places online and most of the time it’s within the same domain.
What is Duplicate Content in SEO?
As already mentioned, Google primarily wants to provide high-quality, relevant, and informative content in its search results. Since Google’s search algorithm has been drastically improving for the past several years, the quality of search results has also gone up. When duplicate content shows up online, Google is really good at detecting it and filtering it out for the purpose of pushing out quality content to its users.
When Google finds similar or identical content on several different web pages it becomes quite difficult for Google to tell these pieces of content apart. In some cases, it’s easier when there’s a signal directing Google to the master page of the given content. When it comes to SEO, Google doesn’t give us penalties for duplicate content, but it does filter it out and that mostly causes low rankings on search engines.
Is Duplicate Content Damaging for SEO?
The short answer would be yes. Duplicate content can damage your SEO tactics – however, it’s not always the case with manual actions and Google penalties. It’s more common than you would think for webmasters to accidentally create SEO duplicate content.
You won’t get a penalty for having duplicate content, but this kind of content can unfortunately have an impact on your search engine rankings. When presented with multiple pieces of similar or completely identical content, search engines don’t know exactly how to rank them and what version of the same content to offer to online users. Duplicate content can therefore be a real nuisance for SEO since it causes so much trouble in determining which version of the duplicate content is the best one. It takes time for engines to filter out these pieces of content and decide which ones to keep and which ones to exclude from the index.
Also, search engines are often confused as to whether they should keep the link metrics separate or stick to keeping the metrics on the same page. Lastly, since search engines always work toward providing the most relevant and high-quality content for online users, duplicate content really makes it hard for them to find the right content to offer in query results.
Once the engines detect duplicate content, webmasters have a hard time maintaining their rankings and usually, they suffer huge traffic losses. These are the two biggest issues that usually cause such huge losses for webmasters:
Search engines aim to provide the most satisfying and efficient search experience to all online users. They will mostly avoid sharing several versions of identical content because the goal is to provide a unique and high-quality experience. In the process of deciding which version is more worthy, search engines will sadly dilute the visibility of all the versions of that content.
If two pages have the same content, search engines will also dilute the equity because other websites will have to choose between these versions when they need to link relevant content. These links will be spread across all of the versions of the identical content instead of just having a bunch of links point to the same web page. Since inbound links are such important factors in ranking, duplicate content can significantly affect the ranking in search results.
The worst-case scenario you can experience with duplicate content is that search engines will push down all of the versions that they deem to have less quality and value to offer. As a result, your online visibility and traffic will go down. However, if you know how to handle duplicate content and make it work in your favour, you won’t have anything to worry about. If you’re new to handling SEO or you just opened up your first business, you may need some help at the beginning. Lots of companies in Australia offer assistance and services that may be helpful to you. You can look up SEO Services Sydney and get professional help from SEO experts who know how to handle issues with duplicate content. They will ensure that your content receives online visibility ad traffic that will lead to higher rankings on search engines.
How to Duplicate Content on the Same Domain
To sum up what has been discussed, duplicate content is more common than you would think. It can happen accidentally most of the time. While it won’t give you any penalties, it can affect your online visibility and Google search rankings. However, it doesn’t need to be harmful or damaging to your SEO if you know how to handle duplicate content.
These are some of the ways in which duplicate content makes an appearance in the same domain and how you should handle these situations.
HTTP vs HTTPS & www vs non-www pages
In case the website has already installed the SSL certificate, these two are the available versions that can be used:
Most websites also include the ‘www’ prefix in these links. This prefix shows that there are possibly more versions of that content that are competing for the position of the best and most reliable source of information. Here are some examples:
If all of these pages ad separate yet offer identical content, the website will most likely struggle with it. The same can be said for trailing sash when being used in the links. If a web page directly benefits from the trailing slash, the duplicate pages will be shown as separate ones, and vice versa. These are examples of what that looks like:
Though these two URLs look completely the same and it seems they will open up the same page and the same content, they are actually different. If there’s no 301-redirect that shows all pages from less to more desired pages, Google ranks these two pages separately from one another. If that’s the case, the trailing slash can make problems with duplicate content.
There are a few typed of URL parameters such as click tracking and analytic code that can generate URL variations which lead to issues in duplicate content.
These are the additional parts of URLs that are usually visible after the ampersand, question marks, or equals. You can mostly find these additions on e-commerce websites. Their purpose is to offer services based on relevant search entries or products that online users look up.
While they can help the users narrow down their search list and help them find what they’re looking for, they can be damaging to the web page rankings. This happens due to the fact that these variations generate duplicate content problems.
To avoid these complications, some content management systems usually rely on session IDs. This simple, yet effective approach functions like a brief history. It shows previous actions the users have made on the website. Then, ID sessions make sure that these actions are marked and remembered when the user comes back to continue where they left off.
For instance, a lot of online shops use this feature. The customer may add items to the shopping cart, but then suddenly abandon them. Whether it’s because they changed their mind or chose to wait before making the purchase, it doesn’t matter. Once they come back, their shopping cart will stay the same, waiting for them to continue their purchase.
Overall, duplicate content can be problematic. While it won’t necessarily leave you with a penalty, it can lower your online visibility and traffic and as a result, make your search rankings go down. Luckily, there are ways that you can avoid having these issues. Understanding SEO strategies are very helpful in this case and that’s why knowing and using the help of the right SEO experts can help you a lot.