What You Need to Know About Duplicate Content

Anybody who has spent even a little bit of time building an online presence for their business or brand has likely heard about the value of content. In particular, creating organic, interesting content is essential to long-term success. Without a unique way to attract people and keep their attention, you’re bound to be stomped by the competition.

Unfortunately, this rat race in fighting for plenty of meaningful content can lead to people cutting corners and taking short-cuts. Arguably the most common area in which this happens involving content centers around the nature of duplicate content.

Today, we’ll examine what duplicate content entails and what else you should know about it.

What Qualifies As Duplicate Content

It’s important at first to define exactly what duplicate content entails. In a technical sense, every website has duplicate content: the menus on each page, your footers and logos can all be considered “duplicate” in a sense.

However, the phrase as it relates to SEO and content creation is a bit more specific. Namely, duplicate content refers to written content that is pinging search engines and is either published verbatim across multiple pages on a website or has been taken from another website.

This can include blog posts, entire web pages and even some forms of multimedia. Search engines analyze websites for the use of duplicate content and generally are capable of discerning the difference between a shared piece of content that is attributed to its owner and something blatantly taken without permission.

What Effects Duplicate Content Can Have

For those not familiar with the effects of duplicate content, the use of it can seem innocent enough at first glance. However, search engines are increasingly intolerant of duplicate content for a number of reasons.

Firstly, search engines can become confused when multiple sites show the exact same content word-for-word; they do not know which version to serve up to users. In most cases, the oldest version wins, indicating that the newer published version of the content was stolen or plagiarized.

This can have profound impacts for your website: not only will your search engine rankings be nerfed, but the resulting nerf leads to less traffic coming to your website.

In cases where the duplicate content is yours – but is nevertheless repeated over and over on multiple pages of your own site – an issue with content quality becomes the problem. This can lead to the same problems as plagiarizing in terms of search engine visibility.

Fixing Duplicate Content Issues

In some cases, duplicate content publication is necessary. In other cases, removing the content is perfectly reasonable. Which is the situation for you determines how to act, but for those who need to keep the duplicate content present, options exist.

Most websites that need to keep pinging search engines with duplicate content use either a 301 redirect or a canonical attribute. The former simply redirects users from one page’s content to the original page. In the case of canonical attributes, search engines treat the page as a copy of an existing page, which can mitigate any negative side effects from duplicate content.

Now that you’re aware of what duplicate content entails, how it can affect your website and what can be done to reverse or fix any problems, you should be in good shape. Ensuring that your website is not negatively pinged by search engines for duplicate content is crucial: armed with this info, you can act accordingly to ensure just that.

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