Duplicate content is a term used to describe content that is almost identical, or has a very high similarity rating between two separate pieces of content. Examples of duplicate content include exact copies of an article or the same article posted across different web pages. When the search engine bots crawl the web, they favour original content and can penalise sites that use duplicate content.
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content is defined as content that appears on multiple websites, or in multiple places within the same website, with very little or no variation. This might be exact copies of a page or website, pages or websites with nearly identical content, several pages or websites with content that differs slightly or subtly, or pages or websites with the same content but at different URLs.
In most cases the goal of creating duplicate content is to increase website rankings on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. However, search engine copyright infringement rules forbid using any content from another website or from a website’s own database without permission, which often happens when duplicate content is created.
When duplicate content is created, it can make it difficult for search engines to determine which version of the content is the original, as well as which version should be rated higher in search engine results. To avoid this, search engine algorithms take measures to prevent duplicate content from ranking significantly higher than the original content.
What to watch out for
Before copying any content from another website, be sure to obtain written permission. The same goes for any content you may have already created and used on another website. This includes images, videos, blog posts, and other content types.
Be sure to review any content you source from other sites to ensure it does not contain any code that could affect the security of your system, or any hidden malicious code or links.
Duplicate content can also occur unintentionally. If, for example, your website has two separate pages with the same content on it, this could result in duplicate content. Similarly, if webpages contain two URLs to the same page, search engine bots will consider this as duplicate content.
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There are some common misconceptions about duplicate content and what can trigger penalty from search engines. Some people believe that having exact copies of text across multiple sections of a website, such as the same description in a product description box is not seen as duplicate content. This is not true as this type of duplicate content will be flagged as a penalty.
Another misconception is that original content on pages that share similar meta descriptions are also considered duplicate content. While sharing similar meta descriptions is not ideal, it is typically not flagged as a penalty as long as the content is original.
To avoid being penalised for duplicate content, there are several best practices you can follow:
Unique Content: Whenever possible, create content that is completely original and unique to your website. Make sure to include content that is both valuable to your readers and optimised for your targeted keywords.
Comprehensive Meta Descriptions: When creating meta descriptions for each page, make sure to create a fresh, comprehensive and unique description for each page. If there is too much similarity between two descriptions, search engines can penalise the website for duplicate content.
Canonical Tags: When creating multiple pages with the same content, use rel="canonical" tags to indicate to search engines which page is the original source of the content. This will ensure that search engines do not index multiple pages with the same content, and prevent penalties for duplicate content.
Avoid 301 Redirects: While 301 redirects are useful for redirecting visitors to a new page, they can also create duplicate content when users land on both the original and redirect pages. When possible, try to offer a consistent experience across all pages by avoiding redirects.
In summary, duplicate content can be very detrimental to your website’s search engine rankings. If you have ever copied content from another website, or created multiple pages with the same content, be sure to take the appropriate steps to prevent being penalised by search engines.