Why Is Having Duplicate Content An Issue For SEO?

May 8, 2024

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important for websites and companies to help them stand out and climb visibility rankings. These methods require expertise, and taking the wrong steps can decrease a site’s success and its viewer gain.

Among these issues, duplicate content is one of the errors that many websites commit when not having an expert agency working with them. It happens when a site has more than one page with the same data, decreasing the effectiveness of keywords and SEO.

Knowing how to solve this is paramount to ensure every metric is on track and rising, strengthening the site’s visibility.

What is Duplicate Content?

First, it’s essential to know what it is about to correctly identify the issue. Duplicate content is when other very similar or identical content appears on websites in more than one place at the same time.

Even when a page isn’t 100% a copy of another one, it can still be considered a duplicate if it’s similar enough. Duplicates can appear not only on the same website but also across separate ones.

Some characteristics must be followed to consider duplicate content. First, this type of content overlaps with the original counterpart and does not have much other data. Furthermore, sites don’t always provide much value.

Types of Duplicate Content

It’s tough to avoid duplicate content. It happens most of the time, and it’s natural. Still, specialists must keep an eye on it and mitigate it as much as possible. It’s vital to address the two existing types to successfully detect it.

Internal

Internal duplicate content is when there’s more than one page in a single site that is identical or similar to other pages. Detecting them as soon as possible and solving this issue is mandatory to prevent SEO issues.

External

The external one appears on the opposite side of internal duplicate content. Also known as cross-domain duplicates, this issue happens when a site is repeated on one or more domains different from its location.

How Does Duplicate Content Impact SEO?

While repeated content can be hurtful, Google does not have a real penalty according to its guidelines unless its primary goal is to be deceptive and manipulative of results. Experts must address the following issues that can hurt SEO:

Hurts Rankings

Google’s primary goal is to present its users with helpful pages and provide relevant information. This means giving valuable things that aren’t easily found anywhere else.

To measure this, search engines have ranking systems that prioritize original content. Duplicates reduce the chances of appearing on top of the browsers, receiving fewer views.

When more than one page looks alike, Google tries to identify which one is the original. Since this mechanism isn’t perfect, if it cannot determine which one is the original, ranks are most likely to suffer a decrease in views.

Dilutes Rankings Among Backlinks

Backlinks are links placed on a site to redirect from that point to your site. They are like a “vote of confidence” that sites add to another site, trusting their sources. Backlinks also help Google check that your content is truthful, accurate, and useful.

If a site has duplicate content, backlinks will likely be diluted, and experts must solve it. Having two or more versions of the single page means that the authority of such a link is passed to more than one.

Identical pages with different URLs mean that, for example, if you have 100 backlinks related to such a page, 60 might go to one and the other 40 to the other. Instead of having an extreme site, you’d have two weakened sites.

Hurts Site’s Crawlability

All search engines, like Google, need to crawl and index sites (to find a store, for example) to make them appear in search results.

One potential threat of duplicate content is that it can waste the site’s crawl budget (the amount of time and resources search engine crawlers devote to a site before moving on). This way, they’d end up reviewing the same content repeatedly.

If crawlers waste time reviewing the same websites, the number of crawled pages will be significantly reduced, impacting the site’s visibility.

Common Causes Behind Accidental Duplicate Content 

Since most causes of duplicate content are natural and accidental, it’s essential to acknowledge them to know the most common issues. Most of them mainly involve structural issues like URL variations and copied content, such as:

Improper Management of WWW

It’s known that users can access a site from both ways: with “www.” at the beginning of the domain link and without it. If the site can be accessed both ways and experts don’t manage it properly, it can lead to duplicate issues.

Even if it’s the same site, the variations in the URL can make it look like two separate ones when it appears on search engines.

Granting Access with HTTP and HTTPS

Another widespread error that website owners have is to grant access to both HTTP and HTTPS protocols. They’re considered two different entrance points with varying security that lead to the same place, but search bots see them as other sites.

Trailing Slashes

Google detects variants of URLs with and without trailing slashes as duplicate content. Adding a single “/” or avoiding it at the end of a link will lead to a duplication issue.

To avoid it, experts must adopt a consistent approach. This means that every page should include (or not include) trailing slashes.

Including Copied Content

Copying content from another site or being scrapped by them into another site without proper permission or giving attribution is also considered duplicate content. This isn’t only not accidental like the other issues but can lead to copyright infringements.

Separate Versions

Structuring a site and splitting it into desktop and mobile versions is a very good idea. It helps designers tailor the content properly for each user, providing the best customer experience while keeping its utility.

The problem comes when this isn’t implemented correctly. Using separate URLs can lead to duplicate content problems. Hiring the services of agencies like Kala can help you to solve these types of issues and ensure you have a well-ranked site with an intuitive user interface.

How to Find and Fix Duplicate Content 

To fix duplicate content, specialists must address the many issues around them. The first step is to find the problem within the site if it’s located there. There are two common ways to do so:

Audits with Specialized Tools

Having experts who check the site and monitor it regularly on a specific basis is a perfect way to locate and fix problems early on before they turn into big issues. If the site is small enough, it can be checked manually, although it’s an inefficient and not excellent method.

Specialists from agencies like Kala utilize audit tools to audit every page of your website, getting accurate results and spotting issues easily. If the site has duplicate pages, they’ll be found quickly, and the experts will solve the issue as soon as possible.

Monitoring with GSC

The Google Search Console, known as GSC for short, is a free tool that specialists also use to see every indexed page of a domain and those that are not. Once the tool is set up, experts can easily find non-indexed sites and locate duplicate content.

Once they’re found, a report is generated showing the affected pages over time and the duplicated ones.

Best Practices to Avoid Duplicate Content

There are a couple of ways marketing agencies and SEO specialists use to fix and avoid future problems regarding duplicate content. These methods are:

Using Canonical Tags

Canonical tags are snippets of HTML code that specify a preferred URL for duplicated content or similar to others. They tell search engines which version of the site the website wants to be indexed and displayed in the results.

Self-referential canonical tags are also very useful for protecting a site against copied or scrapped content. They tell search engines which page is the original one.

Implementing 301 Redirects

The second method is also beneficial. It involves implementing 301 redirects for users and search engines from one URL to another. It’s an excellent method if you have duplicates you don’t want to keep, such as moving from HTTP to HTTPs protocols.

For some hosting companies, 301 redirects are implemented automatically when changing a page’s URL. 

Is Duplicate Content On Different Domains Problematic?

While duplicate content tends to be natural, that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful or problematic. Different domain sites with similar content can lead to short- and long-term issues since both content compete for the exact keywords.

Luckily, Google’s advancements in recognition of original content are always improving, and it has more and more tools to detect it. Original content gets prioritized, ranking it higher than its counterparts, which are lowered in ranking or simply filtered out.

Besides that, the copyright issues that can arise with it are not something that domains should not care about. Those who publish duplicate content across the domains they own might be viewed and flagged as content-stealing sites.

Knowing plagiarists tend to be blacklisted by Google, although not because of incidental duplicated content. It removes some of the sites and even removes them from its services if it detects something off.

Conclusion

Having duplicate content is a significant issue for SEO due to several critical factors. It can confuse search engines about which version to index and rank, leading to potential search visibility and rankings drops.

The issues can spread and dilute the authority signals that are crucial for establishing a page’s relevance and importance. They can also hinder the user experience by presenting redundant or irrelevant information, potentially driving users away from your site.

Maintaining strong SEO performance with agencies like Kala and user engagement is essential to addressing and resolving any instances of duplicate content on your website.

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