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Inbound Marketing Blog

    The 3 Most Common Types of Damaging Duplicate Content

    Posted by Katie Redmond

    SEO Duplicate Content Mistakes


    Duplicate content is sort of like the common cold. It’s annoying, it hinders your ability to get things done, and when you catch it it’s usually your fault. Of course no one aims to contract the cold – often times the illness is incurred by not washing your hands as often as you should, or eating too much junk food, or just not getting enough sleep.

    Duplicate content works in kind of the same way. No one aims to get penalized for duplicate content – it is often just a technical side effect of meaning well and tending to business as usual.

    How to Find Duplicate Content on Your Website

    So first thing’s first – how do you even know that you have duplicate content? Good question, because you can’t really solve a problem if you don’t know whether or not you have it.

    There are many ways to determine whether you’ve got duplicate content issues. My personal favorite is with Screaming Frog’s free SEO Spider Tool, but using Google Webmaster Tools or Google itself are other good ways to discover any duplicate issues you might have.

    3 Common Types of Duplicate Content

    So you discovered some errors, eh? Well you’re not alone. According to Google’s Matt Cutts, around 30% of all Internet content is duplicate content. Duplicate content is a pretty normal SEO problem, and luckily enough, the solutions to it are pretty simple. But in order to eradicate your duplicate content issues, you need to know what type of duplication your site is suffering from. Here are some of the most common types of duplicate content out there:

    1. URL Issues

    When your site has similar URLs that point to identical pages, you can encounter some serious duplicate content problems. Whether your issue is with www vs. non-www URLs, .com vs. .com/index.html URLs, or http vs. https URLs, these seemingly basic problems are important to correct. Despite the fact that it’s pretty obvious to you and I that www.inboundmarketingagents.com and inboundmarketingagents.com are the same website, Google can have a hard time telling them apart.

    When you’ve got separate but similar URLs showing the same content, the best way to handle your problem is to employ a 301 redirect. This means that when people type in inboundmarketingagents.com, they’ll be automatically redirected to www.inboundmarketingagents.com instead, effectively ridding you of your duplicate pages. Some hosting sites like Wordpress allow users to easily redirect pages with tools like free plugins. However, depending on where your website is hosted, you may have to contact your site developer to handle this task.

    2. Copied or Syndicated Information

    Let’s say that you’ve found information or commentary somewhere on the web that you absolutely love and want to share – word for word – with your site visitors. So you copy and paste it onto one of your site pages (making sure to link back to the URL where you found it) and share it with the world. All good, right? Wrong. The problem with simply copying and pasting text to your site from other websites is that it inherently creates duplicate content for which you could be penalized.

    Luckily, there’s a really simple fix for this problem: canonical tags*. A canonical tag is a way to tell search engines that you aren’t duplicating content; you’re just sharing it. When a canonical tag is placed into the code of a page, it helps to you avoid duplicate content penalties while allowing you to share exact content from other pages.

    There is, however, one downside to using canonical tags. While using canonical tags helps you to avoid being penalized for duplicate content, it passes the credit over to the original source of the text. So using canonical tags won’t necessarily help to rank pages, but it’s a honest way to share word-for-word content and avoid being bumped down to duplicate content.

    *In case you were wondering, here’s the code for a canonical tag:

    <link rel=”canonical” href=”THE ORIGINAL URL GOES HERE” />

    3. Duplicated Product Information

    This last type of duplicate content is extremely prevalent on ecommerce sites. This often occurs when site managers use the manufacturer’s item description to describe specific items listed for sale on their site. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this strategy, you must consider that, unless your manufacturer is only selling that specific product to you, then there may well be others online who use the manufacturer’s description on their site as well. So, in a nutshell, when multiple ecommerce sites list describe products using the exact same manufacturer’s description, it creates duplicate content.

    The best way to avoid this is to simply get creative and come up with your own, unique product descriptions. It takes more time and effort, yes, but it also helps you to rank above those other sites whose descriptions are all duplicates.

    learning seo from the experts

    photo credit: Planetrussell via photopin cc

    Topics: SEO