Dealing with Duplicate Content
If you’re responsible for your company’s digital marketing, you have might have read about duplicate content and how it can affect your SEO performance. In this blog I will arm you with all the information you need to know, to handle any duplicate content issues you may have on your site.
Duplicate content, from the perspective of a website owner, is content that already exists elsewhere online. This might be elsewhere on your site, or it might be on another website, such as that of a competitor.
The reason for you having duplicate content can vary. It might be that a less informed member of your team has copied some content from another site when researching content for your own website. It might also be because you have duplicated a page on your site for say two similar products and copied the text over.
How to Handle Duplicate Content
If you discover you have duplicate content issues, you need to deal with them. Google won’t know which page to rank, which could mean it devalues both. This could mean poor rankings, or it could get the offending pages delisted altogether – something that happened to a lot of sites when the Google Panda algorithm first rolled out.
The first step in handling possible duplicate content is to discover what you have by way of an audit. This needn’t take long. There are two great exercises to help you with this:
1 – Use a programme like Xenu Link Sleuth or Screaming Frog to pull off a list of all your URLs and then dump them into a spreadsheet. Sort them by A-Z and then match up any closely matched URLs. You might have slightly different versions of the same page, for example, one with a forward slash at the end and one without. Visit both versions and check if the content is the same.
The 3 R’s to Deal with Duplicate Content
Once you have detected the pages that have duplicate content, you can use the 3 R’s method to fix the issue.
If you have two versions of the same page but you need both, for example two different versions of your homepage with slightly different URL formations, you need to use the rel-canonical tag. Canonicalising means putting some code in place to show Google which version is the master page. You will then avoid being penalised. Ask your developer to do this for you.
If the wish to remove a page due to dupe content, that’s fine, but you need to consider that a link to it may exist somewhere online or it may still be ranking, which means users would get a 404-page error when landing on the page. That’s considered a bad UX (user experience) as the user is likely to click back to the results page. Putting a 301 redirect in place means you can direct the user to a relevant part of your site and keep them on your site.
If the page with duplicate content is a key page on your site and you want to keep it, we recommend rewriting it. Write unique content that has value and is well linked up to other information sources on your website to keep the user journey flowing. Google massively favours unique content and freshening pages up also shows Google you are active and information, which means you are worthy of ranking as a quality result for its users.
Need help with your content marketing? Whitefish Marketing is an SEO agency in Folkestone, Kent working with many businesses in the south east to improve their online visibility. Call us now on 01303 720 288 and let us know how we can help.