Duplicate content is an issue for all digital marketers and can adversely affect your rankings unless you take specific action. Duplicate content means that the same or very similar content appears on different URLs, either within your own site or on 3rd party sites.
The problem with duplicate content is that Google doesn’t know which of the duplicated pages is most important, so it will be confused about which page to show your potential customers and your search rankings can suffer. And we all know what happens to businesses when they move to page 2 on Google…
Duplicate content is a problem in particular for e-commerce sellers where products are largely the same.
One way to avoid duplication is to ensure each product has a unique description. So, don’t simply copy and paste your supplier’s description as it’s likely that the exact text will appear on their site and on the websites of their other clients and you’ll be competing for rankings on Google. Although it’s a little more time-consuming, unique product descriptions, ideally written by a professional copywriter who can use words to both describe and sell, are a must.
Product descriptions are not the only content issue to address, of course.
If you produce a blog and regularly publish posts on the same topic, make sure each piece is unique. It’s surprising how similar articles get published inadvertently.
In addition, it’s worth looking at a few of the more technical aspects of your website to manage duplicate content, with your URL structure playing a key role.
If you have a number of identical or near-identical pages, you can get your webmaster to indicate which of the similar pages you want Google to rank for a particular search query, a process known as canonicalisation.
It’s also a good idea to have a standard structure for your internal linking (links between pages) as this makes it easier to manage, track and maintain, and it’s easier for Google to crawl.
If you allow other webmasters to use your content on their site, ensure they always link back to your original article, or ask them to use the noindex metatag so that Google knows which is the original page.
As your website ages you will no doubt develop it, add and remove pages and alter the navigation from one page to another. If you change the structure of your site, you’ll need to tell Google that content now ‘sits’ somewhere else. You can do this by using 301 redirects (your webmaster or admin may need to action this for you) so that the correct version displays in the correct place on your website, without the loss of your hard-earned page rank. A 301 redirect simply means that a page has permanently moved to a new location and is the best way to ensure your potential customers and Google are directed to the correct page.
Got a question about SEO or content? Please get in touch on 01606 610808.