A very common ranking issue for search engines is the use of duplicate content on websites. Duplication occurs when content from a website appears in more than one location on the internet. There is no official penalty for content duplication but it can sometimes feel like a penalty because if content appears in multiple locations it makes it difficult for search engines to choose which page to rank for that specific piece of content.
Search engines like Google have gone to great lengths to tidy up how they display their results and one of their main gripes has been with duplication because they are keen to display the most relevant results for a query.
What are the most common forms of duplicate content?
Many people can be oblivious that they are doing anything wrong when it comes to duplication. Some of these issues can be quite subtle in the form of headings and metadata.
Duplicate H1 Tags
The H1 tag is the the most important heading tag for any page. However, if you duplicate the H1 tag for multiple pages for the same keyword that you are targeting for the website you are making it difficult for Google to establish which page should be ranked for that keyword.
All H1 Tags should be kept unique to ensure that every keyword has a single landing page to target. Refrain from placing H1 tags in the header or footer of a website because this will be carried across site-wide.
Duplicate Meta Descriptions
The metadata of a website is often described as the shop window to a business in the search results because it can be the first thing a potential visitor will see when clicking through to your website. It is also an important ranking factor for search engines when optimising for a specific keyword, which makes metadata doubly important.
A common issue with modern CMS’s is that default metadata is inserted when a new page is created e.g. “Welcome to my website”. It’s important to ensure that each description is unique.
An example of canonicalisation is when there are multiple versions of the same page such as product specifications. You could have a single product that is available in 3 different specifications. All 3 pages will have the same content except for the slight difference in the specification and all 3 will be competing against each other.
Product page A (competing against page B & C)
Product page B (competing against page A & C)
Product page C (competing against page A & B)
There are several ways around this. You can either create unique content for each product specification, which can be very time consuming or simply use the the canonical tag.
What this does is indicate to search engines that although there are multiple pages that are the same the canonical page is the only page that you want to rank.
Product page A (Canonical)
Product page B (Pointing to page A)
Product page C (Pointing to page A)
The majority of duplication issues tend to be on-site with the exception of scraped content, which is basically other websites copying and pasting your content and displaying it on theirs. Something what can muddy the waters here is if other websites begin linking to the scraped content, which in turn will increase their page authority meaning that it could actually outrank your original content.
If someone has copied content from your website I would advise contacting them and request that they remove it otherwise it might just be as simple to create new unique content on your end.
What tools can you use to detect copied content from other websites?
This tool is great for finding text based content that is duplicated on your own website or if it has been copied and pasted elsewhere you will be provided with the website and a snapshot of what has been copied. It is able to tell you the percentage of content copied and it colour codes these by the percentage of content that has been copied making it easy to read.
The Tynt tool is great for detecting websites that have copied images that belong to your website. Although copied images don’t technically fall directly under the duplication umberella, I think that it’s a useful tool to be aware of because some companies put a lot of time and effort into the images that they use only for them to be copied and published elsewhere.
Do you need help with website duplication?
If you are having issues with content duplication or feel that you’ve had a recent rank drop that may be related to duplication then please get in touch with Search Scientist and we will be happy to help.
Give us a call on 028 9068 3790 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.