Duplicate content is problematic for Google. During SEO implementation, you must avoid the pitfalls that can set back your campaign.  To prevent duplicate content, ensure that the content you publish is one of the kinds, and none of its exact copy should be available across the web. When search engines detect duplicate content that appears at multiple URLs, it cannot decide which to select for showing in the search results.

Almost identical content is duplicate content, which can happen when swapping a brand name, product, or location name. The confusion faced by search engines in dealing with duplicate content might adversely affect all the concerned URLs that would receive a lower ranking.  The problem worsens when people start linking to different versions of the content.

Why is Duplicate Content bad?

Duplicate content can adversely affect websites’ ranking and have several ramifications on the search engine results page. It can even attract Google penalties. To know if you face duplicate content issues, you must know signs that tell you that there is a problem. If you find on checking SERPs that it displays a wrong version or find that the key pages are suddenly underperforming in the search results page or having indexing problems, it is due to duplicate content.  Fluctuations in the core site metrics that keep slipping and show a reduction in traffic EAT, rank positions, etc., are signs of Duplicate Content that needs immediate rectification.

Although no one knows which content will suffer from discrimination when Google prioritizes content for showing in search results, the experts at some of the best SEO services advice following Google’s guidelines of creating content primarily for users. Never create content with a focus on search engines.

What causes duplicate content?

Most of the reasons for duplicate content that can run into dozens are technical. Usually, it is hard to think that any human would knowingly post the same content at different places intentionally without underlining which is original. It might happen when you clone a post and publish it accidentally. Or else, in most cases, Duplicate Content generation from users seems a bit unnatural.

Most of the technical reasons are the developers’ attitude who fails to think from the perspective of the user, browser, or search engine spiders. Instead, their approach is like a programmer that blurs their vision of identifying the causes that can trigger Duplicate Content.

Focus on unique content

Before looking into preventing duplicate content, it is crucial to remind website owners and webmasters that they must create unique content that conveys unique value to users for SEO. However, this is often not easy to achieve and even not at all possible in many cases. Techniques, like syndicating content, creating a content template, sharing information and factors like UTM tags and search functionality are quite risky and lead to content duplication.

We will now discuss methods that can prevent Duplicate Content.

Different methods and strategies can help prevent Duplicate Content on your website and prevent copying your content by other websites to benefit from it.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy refers to the structuring of your web pages into content silos. Have a general look at your site’s taxonomy at any point in time, whether you have a new, revised, or existing document, assigning a new focus keyword and H1, or mapping out the pages from a crawl. To develop a strategy to prevent content duplication, organize your content in a topic cluster.

Meta tagging

When analyzing the risk of duplicate content on your site, another technical point to consider are the signals that emanate from your site to the search engines and Meta robots. If you want to exclude some pages or pages from Google indexing so that it does not appear in search results, using Meta robots is the way to achieve your goal.

When you add the ‘no-index’ tag to the page’s HTML code, you tell Google not to show the pages in search results. This method allows for more granular blocking of a specific page or file than Robots.txt, which happens on a larger scale.  Although this instruction is applicable for many other reasons, Google considers it a directive to exclude some pages.

 Canonical tags

Canonical tags are the most important element in preventing Duplicate Content on your site and across other sites. Google understands that when you use the rel=canonical element as a snippet of HTML code, it is a clear signal to Google about the ownership of the content by a publisher, even if it appears at any other place across the web.

Canonical tags are useful for desktop and mobile page versions, web vs. print versions of content, or multiple locations targeting pages. You can even use it for any instance whenever duplicate pages crop up from the main version page.

 Duplicate URLs

When you face issues with duplicate URLs, it can be due to several structural URL elements.  Most of these happen due to the way search engines look at URLs. In the absence of any instructions or directives, a dissimilar URL always equates to a different page. The lack of clarity or wrong signalling, though unintended, decreases the core site metrics like rank positions, traffic, and EAT.  The most common reasons for duplicate content are pages with both HTTP and HTTPS versions, pages with and without slashes, and www and non-www pages.

Redirects

Eliminating duplicate content by redirecting pages duplicated from another to feed it back into the main version of the page is one of the most useful tactics. Redirects may be an appropriate solution for dealing with the problem when you have pages on your site that attract high traffic or have high link equity but are duplicated from another page. When removing Duplicate Content by using redirects, keep in mind redirecting to the page that is performing better and using 301 redirects as much as possible.

Carefully thinking about the site structure and focusing on the user’s journey on your site are the safest ways to avoid duplicate content.

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