Is duplicate content ruining your life?
Probably not, however duplicate content is a huge problem on the web, not least of which because it causes no end of confusion among website owners. James explains exactly what constitutes as duplicate content, and (more importantly) how to fix / avoid it.
What is Duplicate Content?
As the name suggests, duplicate content is simply a substantial amount of content (normally text) that exists on more than one web page.
So..? What’s the problem with that?
When more than one page contains exactly the same text, search engines struggle to work out which is the original, and therefore which one to rank. This is bad enough when duplicate content exists across several different domains (websites), but it’s very common to see several pages on the same website, all fighting against each other for the same content.
Does it really matter?
I’m afraid so, yes. Worst case scenarios include having your site penalised or removed from Google’s index completely. Either of which carries potentially disastrous consequences.
Ok… Got any examples of duplicate content?
Yup, sure have – one of the most common examples is found in a lot of online shops, and occurs when a product exists in more than one category.
For the purpose of this example, let’s pretend we’re a small micro-brewery (called Kit’s Kegs) that sells beer online. One of our products might be ‘Annan Ale’. Typically this will have it’s own page, with a few details about about the product, images, price and so on.
And, this product page might be listed within a few different categories, such as:
- Scottish Beers
- Beer by the Barrel
Typically, each of these categories will have it’s own URL, with our product listed within each – something a bit like this:
See the problem?
Each of these URL’s shares the exact same content with the others – every page is the same. If someone searches for ‘Annan Ale’, how does Google know which page to rank first? The simple answer is = it doesn’t.
A few more examples:
- Printer friendly versions of pages (same text, different URL’s)
- Session ID’s (e.g. www.kitskegs.com/scottish-beers/annan-ale?SESSID=843
- www. and non www. versions of your site – if both URL’s take you to the same page, chances are you’ve got a problem.
Drat! I think my site does this – can you help me fix it?
We certainly can. Almost all duplicate content issues can be fixed, and we’ve got many years of experience in doing just that.
As each site is different, there’s rarely a simple fix-all solution, but normally we’ll implement one or more of the following techniques to get things straightened out.
- Content restructuring
- Planning and setting up redirects
- Canonicalisation tags
If you’re concerned about it, or simply want a professional opinion – just drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.