Duplicate Content In SEO — How Dangerous Is It?
We’ve all heard the scary stories of how duplicate content can hurt websites. Today we’ll look at Google’s rulebook and see just how harmful it can be and what to do to protect yourself from it. Duplicate content in SEO — a reason to panic or not?
Duplicate content in SEO — what is it?
The term “Duplicate content” means precisely what it sounds like — it’s content that appears on more pages than one and is practically indistinguishable from the other version. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one website or multiple different ones.
How bad is it for SEO? Not good, but also not as bad as you might think. Technically, there are no penalties for that — at least when it concerns Google. But the negative impact is still there: when a user searches for something, Google decides which website is more relevant and which one is a “decoy.” Sadly, more times than not, it chooses wrong, so it’s up to you to decide what to do.
And before you start panicking, footers and navigational items are not duplicates — Google is smarter than that.
What to do?
Once again, Google won’t penalize you, but you will witness the loss of traffic. Your website might start ranking lower, too, which can be devastating.
By the way, we’re not talking about plagiarism here, although it is a massive part of the web. Duplication can be about anything, like, for example, links. You might not know it, but analytics code can create similar links, so better don’t add URL parameters to stay safe. If you have various site versions out there (say, with different prefixes) they are essentially copies, harming each other equally. Remember that all your links should use the same prefix, so never lose the www — or never use it at all.
Plagiarism is a big problem: many sites copy someone else’s content in an attempt to steal clicks, and many times they do succeed. For that not to happen, you must monitor the web by using tools like Semrush or Copyscape.
Regarding content, ensure everything you’re posting is 100% original. Some spell-checking tools like Grammarly can do it for you. When hiring a content writer, check what they are posting for at least a week or two — some tend to cheat to do more work quicker.