How to Handle Duplicate Content
It is a fairly common understanding that duplicate content is not a good idea for a website. In many cases, duplicate content can present itself in the form of spam or plagiarism, which is why search engines are rumoured to be very hard on its usage. Despite this understanding, duplicate content is not universally viewed as negative by all search engines, as there are several legitimate uses for it. You yourself may have found a situation in which the use of duplicate content was somewhat necessary, but hesitated to do so knowing what the common belief is about it. Below, we’ll talk about duplicate content and ways in which to handle its usage intelligently.
Common Forms of Duplicate Content
Duplicate content comes in many forms, ranging in purpose from illegitimate to necessary. Plagiarized work is a common example of illegitimate content, and a big reason why search engines like Google discourage its use. Websites that have presences in multiple countries or in multiple languages may use duplicate content to serve up (mostly duplicated, but slightly altered) versions of the same content to different audiences. Websites that serve up specific information about topics that vary from state to state or country to country will also face similar problems, making it difficult to straddle a fine line while pinging users with relevant information.
Google’s Opinion of Duplicate Content
So what exactly does the biggest search engine actually think about the use of duplicate content? As it would turn out, the answer isn’t as black and white as many would think. Google states that duplicate content in and of itself “is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results”. They do, however, acknowledge that the presence of duplicate content can cause issues for websites if it is not properly configured. What this means for you is that there has to be a precise focus on how duplicate content is displayed on your site if you do in fact decide to use it. What are some of the considerations?
Steering Clear of Duplicate Content Conflicts
If you want to be sure that your website is not penalized for duplicate content, then there are a few rules you can follow. For starters, 301 redirects that redirect your visitors to the relevant pages on one website is a good rule of thumb. If you are duplicating content across multiple domains in different countries, then using the domain structure domain.country rather than domain.com/a, domain.com/b, etc. is a better strategy. Rather than duplicating vast amounts of identical content across multiple pages, try linking to it instead. If on one given website you have multiple pages with nearly identical content, then it might be a good idea to merge these pages and use the anchor link feature instead.
Pinging users with information that is duplicated is sometimes necessary. By using a variety of formatting tips and tricks to please the Google Gods, you will navigate successfully the treacherous waters associated with duplicate content.