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Fix Duplicate Content Issues That Hurt Your SEO Rankings


Fix Duplicate Content Issues That Hurt Your SEO Rankings

Duplicate content on a website refers to content that appears across multiple pages or URLs in an identical or near-identical form. This is an important issue that site owners need to address as part of their SEO strategy. In this comprehensive guide, I'll explain what duplicate content is, why it's an issue for SEO, identify common causes, and provide actionable tips to prevent or fix duplicate content problems.



What Exactly is Duplicate Content?


Duplicate content is content that appears multiple times across different pages within a website. This could be entire blog posts or articles that are published on more than one URL, or it could be blocks of copied text that are reused without modification.


Essentially, duplicate content refers to any content that is duplicated or replicated in an identical or near-identical form on different parts of a website. It also includes content that is scraped or copied from an original source outside of your website without adding any original commentary or value.



Why Duplicate Content is an Issue for SEO


There are two main reasons why duplicate content can negatively impact SEO and search engine rankings:

  1. It can dilute the ranking potential of website pages. When the same or very similar content is found on multiple pages, search engines have trouble determining which page should rank for particular keywords. This can negatively impact search visibility.

  2. It may be seen as deceptive behavior. Search engines like unique, original high-quality content and they penalize sites that engage in manipulative tactics like duplicate content. Getting hit with a duplicate content penalty can hurt search rankings.

In essence, duplicate content makes it hard for search engines to determine the uniqueness and relevance of individual pages on a website for ranking purposes. That’s why as an SEO best practice, duplicate content should be minimized whenever possible.



What Causes Duplicate Content Issues?


There are a few common ways that duplicate content issues arise on websites:


Republishing Content Across Multiple Pages


For example publishing the exact same blog post or news article on different section pages or category archives.


Scraping or Copying Content From External Sources


Using content from another website without adding original commentary or analysis is seen as duplicate content.


Similar Content Output From Content Management Systems


For example "printer friendly" page versions in WordPress or automatically generated category tag pages.


Identical Products Pages on Ecommerce Sites


When the same product description and details get indexed from the category page and product page due to site architecture issues.


Pagination and Category Archives


Automatically generated pages like paginated homepages and category archives can unintentionally output duplicate content.


So in summary, both internal/on-site content replication and external duplicate content from other sites can cause SEO issues if not addressed properly.



How to Prevent Duplicate Content Problems?


Here are my top recommended tips for preventing and fixing duplicate content issues:


1. Audit Your Site for Existing Duplicate Content


Do a crawling audit using tools like ScreamingFrog or DeepCrawl to identify crawled pages on your site serving up duplicate content. Review category archives, tag pages, pagination, print pages etc.


2. Address Internal Duplicate Content Issues


For any unnecessary internal content replication from your CMS (like Hubspot), use redirects, canonical tags or meta noindex tags to consolidate and clean things up.


3. Avoid Scraping External Content


Never copy content from other websites without adding original commentary or analysis. Avoid publishing externally syndicated content without a link back to the original source.


4. Use Canonical Tags to Solve Some Duplicate Content Issues


Implement canonical tags to send signals about the original, authoritative page version. This helps search bots crawl and index the right page.


5. Create Unique Content Versions When Necessary


In cases where you need multiple similar content versions like main and print pages, ensure each page provides unique value to site visitors. Modify titles, content, images on each URL to differentiate.


6. Consolidate Category and Tag Archives


Reduce duplicate content risk from archival content pages through site architecture adjustments and redirects.


7. Address Duplicate Product Content on Ecommerce Sites


Prevent indexing of redundant product content from multiple URLs through technical fixes.


8. Fix Duplicate Left-Over Pages From Website Changes


When making major site changes, ensure all old outdated pages either redirect properly to relevant updated pages or use meta noindex tags if redirection is not possible.



Key Takeaways and Action Items


Duplicate content on your website can negatively impact SEO rankings if left unchecked. By understanding what causes duplicate content problems and using the right prevention tips you can avoid duplicate content penalties.


Here are the key takeaways:

  • Duplicate content refers to identical or similar content appearing across multiple URLs on your site from internal content replication or external sites.

  • It can dilute the ranking strength of individual pages and may trigger duplicate content penalties.

  • Fix duplicate content through consolidation, canonicalization, redirects, unique content versions or the meta robots noindex tag.

  • Duplicate content audits, technical fixes and adjust


I hope this comprehensive guide provides site owners with clarity on duplicate content SEO issues along with actionable ways to address such problems!


Dealing with duplicate content and technical SEO issues can be tricky, even for experienced website owners. If you find yourself needing extra help to execute some of the fixes outlined in this guide, consider leveraging the expertise of an SEO agency like Slaterock Automation.


Our team specializes in conducting in-depth SEO audits to identify and resolve problems like duplicate content through their proprietary software and manual processes.


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