The most troublesome thing about duplicate content on your website, and the consequences it represents, is that you may not even know it exists.
Content is perhaps the single most important aspect of your website. Not only does it represent an informative value to your new visitors and returning patrons, but also conveys positive trust signals to search engines.
The Right Stuff
Taking a “more is better” approach to content production on your website is typically beneficial. However, the quality of that content is equally important.
The best kind of content is fresh, unique, creative, interesting, informative and relevant to your visitors’ needs, questions or problems. All of the content on your website should be entirely original, never copied or “spun” from existing sources elsewhere on the web.
Producing original, meaningful content consistently and steadily is the best first step you can take towards avoiding duplicate content.
However, it is possible for Google to detect duplicated pages and text on your website that neither you nor your visitors can see. We will examine this hidden danger in further depth momentarily. But first, let’s discuss briefly the potential consequences of allowing duplicate content to remain on our websites.
Google’s Content Concerns
As we discussed toward the beginning of this article, content is a major factor in Google’s recipe for ranking websites in their search results.
Because of the significance of content as a catalyst to drive exposure through Google, it is frequently exploited and abused. Copying and plagiarizing content is a common practice among less than reputable websites.
In an effort to protect the quality of their search results, Google has therefore created a special algorithm designed specifically for the purpose of penalizing such practices and sometimes even removing offending websites from their index.
A Hidden Hazard
With the understanding that Google will scrutinize our content for uniqueness and quality, it is imperative to ensure no duplication exists throughout our websites. Remember that Google uses digital tools and algorithms to check for duplicate content. These tools can detect otherwise unseen instances of duplicate web pages and content.
The most common cause of hidden duplicate content comes from the existence of multiple versions of your web pages, or the website as a whole. For example, your home page might reside at the address “www.mywebsite.com”, while another version of that same home page can also be reached at “www.mywebsite.com/index.html” or perhaps even simply “mywebsite.com” (without the “www”).
If all of these versions of a website’s home page are visible at these different addresses, Google will view them as individual pages, and possibly index all of them. According to Google, this will count as three different pages, all with the same duplicate content of the Home page!
Scenarios such as the one described above are quite common, and they can occur in various ways. It is also not uncommon for a website’s entire domain to have multiple versions of all of its pages, and thereby essentially viewed by Google as having two copies of the same content on every page!
These scenarios can occur from various improper programming and technical errors on the web server that’s hosting the site and can usually best be resolved by careful and accurate domain and page-level redirects.
Sever Side Solutions
Content on your website that is plagiarized or otherwise copied from external sources is easy enough to clean up, but what do we do about the ‘hidden hazards’ described in the latter section above?
Those issues, which tend to be far more prominent and harder to spot without the proper expertise and investigation, will require careful mapping and analysis of the website and the server upon which it resides. Once the offending pages and likely causes are pinpointed, appropriate measures must be taken directly on the web server to resolve these issues.
In some cases, applying special code directly into a duplicated web page can also resolve potential problems. Part of our strategies and site auditing practices at Visual App is to scan for these types of duplicate content concerns and resolve them promptly. In order to ensure the most accurate and comprehensive resolution, we suggest that you leverage the expertise of trained SEO and web development specialists for these types of server-side duplication issues.