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What is Duplicate Content?

Overview

image displaying pencilsDuplicate content is simply when you have any textual content on your site that is also on another page of your site or on another site on the internet. For example, if an auto-glass company likes the “About Us” statement of a company that’s across the country and thinks it would be fine to include one of the paragraphs from their page which is well written in their “About us” section. They would think that, since we’re not competitors it’s no big deal. Well, Google can penalize you for duplicate content. It can be even less harmfully intended, like accidentally putting an article on your site that has been published elsewhere. There are many reasons duplicate content happens, and it’s really important to avoid it.

Google Panda

Google Panda, which first came out in February 2011, is a regular update of Google’s that crawls the web looking at duplicate content among other things. People have lost huge amounts of traffic and money from being penalized by Google Panda even if it is by accident. Accidentally using duplicate content is a real error, and should be avoided. See this technical article if you want to see the stir Panda caused when it hit in 2013. We’ve had many big hits over the years.

Two Common Examples of Duplicate Content

1st example

Assume websitename.com is your website. Upon typing the following into the internet browser, all of these:

websitename.com
www.websitename.com
websitename.com/index.html
www.websitename.com/index.html
websitename.com/
www.websitename.com/

should end up redirecting automatically to something like “websitename.com”.

If they don’t, this means you are suffering from duplicate content. This doesn’t happen very often these days, but if you get a custom website produced by someone who is not familiar with this, they could leave you in the dark. Most web designers these days are really good about this, but it’s important to be sure. Always talk to your Webmaster – that’s good advice.

What do you do if, for example, when you type in

websitename.com

and

www.websitename.com

and they both stay like they are? You do a 301 redirect. 301 redirects are the solution to duplicate content. They are easy to do in products like WordPress, and can be done in minutes by a web designer usually.

2nd Example

There are a few different ways that E-commerce category pages can be duplicates. One occurs when your URL (like www.widgets.com/thewidgets?color=green) occurs differently for the same page. The URL I just gave,

www.widgets.com/thewidgets?color=green

is an example of where a category page is different depending on the color of widget chosen. To make a long story short, complex URLs like the one above can sometimes create multiple URLs for the same page.

Both of these are URL problems, but duplicate content comes in many forms (like the accidentally publishing an article already published example). Talk to your webmaster, as always. Be informed and up to date.

Written by Owner Bob Weikel