Let’s talk about duplicate content. While it may seem like a fairly harmless digital marketing error, the reality is: having the same content available on multiple pages within your own website can be confusing for search engines, and negatively affect your SEO.
Keep reading as we dig into duplicate content and why you should do your best to avoid it!
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content is any content that can be found on multiple URLs across the internet. When more than one URL offers the same content, it can result in confusion for search engines, about which URL should be listed highest in the search results.
Additionally, search engines like Google don’t want to rank pages that use copied content from other pages in their indexing, including pages from your own website.
Why does duplicate content matter?
In order to provide the best search experience, search engines rarely show multiple versions of the same content, meaning that they’ll only show the version that is most likely to be the best result. Because of this, when duplicate content is present, site owners can suffer rankings and traffic losses.
Furthermore, link equity can be diluted because other sites have to choose between the duplicates as well. Instead of all inbound links pointing to one piece of content, they’ll link to multiple pieces, spreading the link equity among the duplicates. Because inbound links are a ranking factor, this can then impact the search visibility of a piece of content.
Duplicate content example #1
The easiest way to demonstrate duplicate content and where it can unknowingly appear on a site, is through a real world example. When we first started working with one of our clients, we realized that they had two “Contact Us” pages on their website – one page, but within two URLs, as exemplified in the screenshots below:
Pay attention to the URLs in the pictures above. In picture one it’s: https://website.com/pages/contact and in picture two it’s: https://website.com/pages/contact-us.
While these two pages are similar, they’re located on different URLs. Because of the negative effects that this can have on search engine results, we suggested removing the duplicate page and setting a 301-redirect to the main page.
Duplicate Content example #2
Let’s use a different real world example to talk about another instance of duplicate content: having very similar / partial content available on multiple pages of your website.
When we started reviewing a new client’s website, we discovered that a similar piece of descriptive text could be found on three different site pages. Take a look at the screenshots below, pulled from the three different pages (“Contact Us”, “Returns”, and “About Us”), and notice the repeated text:
If you notice similar text reappearing in multiple places on a site, we recommend being judicious about using it, so that website traffic is funneled to only the most logical destination.
When looking for the best destination for the above text, because it’s more of a statement about the brand than anything else, it’s probably best served on this company’s “About Us” page, rather than the “Returns” or “Contact” pages.
Duplicate Content example #3
Another good example of duplicate content is duplicate product copy. If different variations of the same product (color, size, pattern, etc.) exist on a company’s website, it’s likely that the product description of the products will be similar.
Check out the example below:
As you can see in above screenshots, three different product pages exist for towel sets and the only difference between them is the color, resulting in a nearly identical product description.
In this case, in order to optimize and streamline traffic, we suggested writing unique pieces of copy for each product, or merging them all into one.
Duplicate content matters! Go through your site with a fine tooth comb, and usethe above guide to remove repeat copy wherever possible, and optimize yourwebsite. And if you run into any trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out to someonefrom our team!