If you are a website owner or a marketer, you might have heard that your website shouldn’t have duplicate content. It refers to the same text content that’s found on more than one website. Before January 2021, many feared that duplicate content will negatively affect their SEO and rankings.
But a top official at Google set the record straight by saying that the technology company doesn’t give a negative rank to pages with identical content but selects the best matching page. Does that mean that anyone can copy-paste content from other websites and blogs and appear in the search results? Certainly not.
Google has guidelines to avoid duplicate content and is strictly against malicious identical content. Even though duplicate content doesn’t attract penalties, they are still harmful to your website and SEO. In this blog post, we discuss how Google ranks websites and how duplicate content affects the value of a website.
How Google ranks websites?
Google uses a three-step process to determine the rank of each page:
- Crawling—Google uses web crawlers or spiders to look into the content on billions of web pages and millions of websites.
- Indexing—The search engine arranges the information it identifies on every web page and stores it in a database.
- Ranking—It gets the information from the index and shows the best results.
Google uses several factors to rank websites on its search engine pages. They are:
- Keyword usage—It determines the intent behind using the keyword and finds the most relevant results.
- Relevancy—It uses meta tags, keywords, and interaction to indicate relevance.
- Content quality—It determines a web page’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
- Context and settings—Google uses context, location, search history, and settings to yield results.
Google SEO Duplicate content rules
Even though Google doesn’t penalize websites for duplicate content, they have rules for it:
- Avoid creating multiple sites with the same content. Customize each page to provide more value and answer specific queries of users.
- Don’t copy-paste content from other sources on your website. You may, however, quote a source or paraphrase content from other sites.
- Use Google Search Console to submit sitemaps and notify Google about the web pages you would like to be crawled and indexed.
- Don’t publish identical content across multiple domains (even the website is the same). The mobile and desktop pages should have different content. It’s better to use responsive web design to prevent the need for multiple domains.
- Avoid publishing identical content on different URLs. This will result in search engines treating the two versions as separate entities.
How Google SEO duplicate content rules affect your website
Google SEO duplicate content rules affect your website in the following ways:
- It diminishes the crawl budget and prevents indexing of your web pages
While indexing a website, Google search engine bots follow a crawl budget. It decides the amount of attention and time crawlers spend on your website and index the web pages. A website with heavy duplicate content diminishes the Google crawl budget. With a lower crawl budget, the bots can’t index unique web pages correctly.
- It prevents web pages from displaying on result pages
Google won’t show identical content on its search page, even though it is highly optimized. When Google bots find identical content on multiple pages, they try to find the best matching one. Let’s suppose there are three pages with duplicate content. Instead of all three getting indexed and displayed on the search engine page, only one will appear. Apart from diminishing the Google crawl budget, duplicate content also prevents earlier indexed web pages from displaying on search engine result pages.
- It weakens link equity
When a web page receives more backlinks its authority increases. But when it has many versions (such as www and m), other sites may link to different URLs of the web page. This will weaken its link equity and may decrease its rank.
Steps to address duplicate content issues
- Use duplicate content checker and plagiarism tools to find issues
You can select a good duplicate content checker from many plagiarism checking tools to find issues on your website. Using it, you can find a few lines of plagiarized content to an entire page of identical content.
- Use 301 redirect
301 Redirect is a control that permanently transfers full ranking power, or link equity, to the redirected page. Using 301 redirects is the easiest and quickest way to remove duplicate content.
- Use the canonical tag
In case you don’t want to use 301 redirect, you can use a canonical tag. It tells search engines that a specific link has the original content and all other web pages have duplicate content.
- Set the preferred domain on Google Search Console
Setting the preferred domain on Google Search Console enables you to specify how bots crawl several URL parameters. This is useful if you have more than one domain. You can find it under Site Settings on Google Search Console.
- Take the help of a professional content marketing company
If all the above steps are a bit too technical for you, consider taking the help of a reliable content marketing company that can create high-quality unique content and provide professional content marketing services.
Even if duplicate content doesn’t affect a website’s ranking negatively, it can cause other problems. Google doesn’t penalize websites that have identical content in them but they are strict against malicious plagiarism. At PeddleWeb, we believe that every individual and brand is unique and so is their message and content. We create original content that reflects the unique brand personality and resonates with their target audience.