Duplicate Content – Should I Be Concerned?
A large part of a successful website involves creating great content that people flock to. The words and images you put on your pages play a large role in explaining to customers who you are, why you matter, and how you can make a difference in their lives.
For many companies, creating a whole site of compelling content is a large ask: a multi-page website can require thousands of words. This overwhelming task makes using duplicate content on multiple pages a compelling way to save time and money. However, repeating content across your site can harm your overall abilities to rank well on the web. Add to that, if you subscribe to a service that uses the same content feed on multiple websites, it becomes an issue of possible plagiarism. This is why duplicate content should not be a part of your digital marketing strategy.
What Is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content refers to any content that is copied verbatim on multiple web pages on your site or content that is copied verbatim on numerous other websites across the internet.
Say you subscribe to a content writing service that regularly distributes a blog post to your website. In this case, entire blog posts are posted on multiple websites at the same time — on your website and on many other websites. Google could view this as plagiarism and may devalue all the other websites except the one where the content was first published.
Unbeknownst to you, another reason duplicate content may occur on your website is for technical reasons — like having multiple versions of your entire website. For example, did you know that http://example.com and https://example.com are two versions of one website? This causes duplicate content and again devalues your site.
For those new to website creation and search engine optimization, duplicate content can seem harmless. After all, you’re not plagiarizing intentionally, right? However, copying content across multiple pages or multiple websites can influence how your site ranks in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Why Duplicate Content Can Hold You Back
Contrary to common belief, there is no actual penalty for duplicate content – and Google does penalize websites for many other actions – but this particular practice can still hold you back for several reasons. Considered “appreciably similar” content by Google, the same content across multiple web pages and websites adds an extra layer of complexity into how Google’s algorithm ranks content that can ultimately negatively affect your results if this is not clearly presented to Google.. This is why:
- Algorithms have trouble determining which pages to include in their search rankings
- Assignment of metrics, like trust and page authority, causes confusion with duplicate content issues; the algorithm doesn’t know whether to attribute trust and page authority to one web page or split them up between multiple pages or multiple websites
- Challenges arise in choosing which version is the best fit and has the highest authority for query results
The Downsides of Ranking Duplicate Content
Because Google doesn’t want the same content showing up more than once in its results, its algorithm is forced to make a choice between pages. While this doesn’t necessarily sound like a big problem – your site is still being ranked, right? – it can compromise your visibility as you are essentially giving Google less material to work with. This can also spread out link equity across multiple web pages and websites, reducing the efficacy of unique content as a ranking factor and ultimately lowering your spot in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
As of 2011 with the introduction of the Panda algorithm, Google has put a priority on content. Any site with content that is considered lacking, which can include duplicate content when it occurs in conjunction with other issues, can lead to a sharp fall in rankings. As such, the higher quality and more unique your content is and the more human it seems, the more likely it is that Google will ensure web users see your site.
Unique, high quality content is a tenet of SEO, providing advantages in the form of web traffic and, ultimately, customer and revenue growth. If you want to make sure you’re not facing problems with duplicate content, Search Advantage Marketing can help. Contact us today to learn more about our content creation and web design services and see how we can help your marketing objectives succeed.