Is Duplicate Content an Obstacle to Your SEO?
Today, being visible online has become a necessity for companies looking to sell their products on the Internet. But did you know that duplicate content can actually affect your search engine rankings?
According to a 2022 study, it appears that almost 67% of web pages contain duplicate content, which can considerably harm your ranking in search engine results.
Duplicate content refers to the presence of identical or very similar content on several different web pages. This can be the result of poor content management, accidental duplication or even a misguided strategy of copying and pasting content from other websites. Whatever the cause, duplicate content is likely to reduce your online visibility, and therefore your ability to attract customers. Fortunately, to avoid compromising your SEO efforts, there are ways to protect yourself against duplicate content and ensure your products stand out from the crowd on major search engines.
Table of Contents
- 1. What is duplicate content?
- 2. Why is duplicate content an obstacle to SEO?
- 3. How to detect duplicate content
- 4. How can you prevent duplicate content?
1. What is duplicate content?
Precise definition of duplicate content
The notion of content duplication emerged when the Internet was born and there were more and more websites created. Website owners often tend to reproduce or copy content from other websites, whether intentionally or not, in order to enrich their own content.
Duplicate content is an expression commonly used in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to describe the simultaneous existence of several pages with identical or very similar content, accessible at different URLs.
The different types of duplicate content
There are 2 types of duplicate content that can impact your website's SEO:
- Boilerplate content: this is original content that has served as the basis for creating other content, without any apparent modification
- Near-duplicate content: this corresponds to content on a site that has been copied and then modified.
In addition, according to Google, duplicate content can occur:
- Within the same website (internal duplicate content): this is the least serious type of content duplication, but can still have an impact on a website's SEO. It occurs when the CMS (Content Management System) generates pages with different addresses but the same content, for example between the desktop and mobile versions of a site.
- Between different websites (external duplicate content): this form of content duplication is more serious, especially between e-commerce sites and marketplaces. It can even occur for identical product description sheets.
The risks of duplicate content
Writers who publish the same content on different sites are also considered to be plagiarists, which can be detected by Google using sentence corpora or a specific algorithm.
These practices can have harmful consequences for your site's SEO. Duplicate content undermines credibility and confuses search engines as to which page to rank. What's more, if search engines consider a page's content to be duplicated, they may decide not to display it, or move it down in the search results.
2. Why is duplicate content an obstacle to SEO?
The basics of how search algorithms work
Thanks to machine learning technology, search algorithms (notably Google's) accurately assess the quality of content. They are designed to deliver relevant and unique search results to users. So, when there are duplicates of content on different pages or websites, algorithms can struggle to determine which is the most relevant, which can negatively affect a website's ranking.
Why duplicate content can dilute your website's popularity
Duplicate content is likely to affect the perceived quality of your site, as it creates confusion for visitors. If they find that the same content is repeated in several places on your site, it can disorientate them and give them a bad image of the site, which can lead them to seek information elsewhere.
Negative impact on organic traffic and conversions
The existence of plagiarism can lead to a significant drop in organic traffic to your site and therefore reduce the chances of conversion, as fewer visitors means fewer prospects, leads and therefore fewer potential sales.
Finally, duplicate content can generate internal competition within your site. If several pages offer the same content, they can compete with each other on search engine results, which can alter their overall effectiveness.
An optimal content strategy therefore consists of detecting, avoiding and eliminating duplicate content to preserve your site's SEO and visibility and offer a clear and consistent user experience.
3. How to detect duplicate content
Online tools for identifying duplicate content
There are many free and paid online tools to help you detect duplicate content. The most popular tools include:
- Screaming Frog
- Small SEO Tools...
Detection tool features
Each duplicate content detection tool has its own specific features. Some tools focus on detecting text similarities within pages of the same site, or comparing content with that of other websites. Others identify similarities in the structure of the website itself.
Several solutions offer a continuous web page monitoring option, enabling users to receive alerts if duplicate content is found. Some offer an option for creating detailed reports, showing plagiarism percentages and sources of duplicated content. Writing tools are also available to assist you with content creation and ensure that your content is original.
As is often the case, paid tools generally offer more advanced features and greater reliability.
How to analyze results and identify duplicate content problems
Once you've used a tool to detect duplicate content, it's important to analyze the results. Some similarities may be acceptable, but others will need to be corrected. It's important to identify pages with duplicate content and examine them carefully to determine the source of the problem.
With the Google Search Console tool, you can examine error messages and obtain useful information about duplicate pages. The error messages displayed in the "Coverage" section will tell you about duplicate pages, unindexed pages, pages with missing title tags, etc.
Traffic data from Google Analytics is also very instructive. If traffic on certain pages has dropped considerably, it's possible that Google has detected duplicate content on these pages and penalized them.
4. How can you prevent duplicate content?
Create original and unique content
To avoid duplicate content, it's important to follow good SEO practices. This means creating original, unique content. Avoid automatically generated content such as archive pages, tag pages or category pages, and don't copy or duplicate content from other websites.
If duplicate content is already present on a site, it's important to correct and remove it quickly.
It is also advisable to use tools for automatic or manual removal of duplicate content, such as robots.txt or content removal tools.
3 tips to minimize duplicate content
1- Using canonical tags
The HTML <link rel="canonical"> tag was launched in 2009 by Google to create a reference pointing to the canonical URL, which is the preferred or authoritative version of a page you wish to index. This tag is commonly used to avoid duplicate content when several pages have similar or identical content. You must be careful with the choice of canonical URLs, as indicating a promotional page with a canonical URL means it could be displayed first in a search engine's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), even if the promotion is no longer relevant.
2- Using HTTP 301 redirects
HTTP 301 redirection is an effective method of automatically redirecting visitors from page "A" to the new page "B". This solution is commonly applied when the same content can be accessed via multiple URLs. It is recommended not to use different links from different URLs on the site leading to the same page, to avoid confusing search engines.
3- Using the "noindex" instruction
This instruction is used to tell search engines that they can crawl a page but not index it in the search results. It is important to ensure that the page is not blocked by the robots.txt file for this instruction to work effectively, as the crawlers will not be able to access your directive and will continue to display the page in the SERPs.
Finally, it's important to regularly update content to avoid future problems.
As digital marketing expert Neil Patel points out, "Duplicate content is probably one of the most underestimated problems in SEO." In the future, it's likely that search engines will continue to refine their algorithms to detect reused content even more accurately, and penalize sites that abuse it.
In this context, it's becoming increasingly important for companies to be vigilant, and to prioritize original, high-quality content. Consequently, it can be very profitable to work with qualified professionals to avoid any loss of visibility on the web.
VirtualExpo's SEO service is the perfect solution for manufacturers and distributors looking to improve their search engine rankings and avoid the pitfalls of duplicate content. Don't let duplicate content compromise your online visibility! Contact us today to find out how we can help you improve your SEO and achieve your business goals.