There are times when having duplicates is a good thing. A spare set of keys, or a double scoop instead of a single on your ice cream cone are nice things to have. Duplicate content, however, isn’t as practical or tasty. The unfortunate truth is that duplicate content can kill your website’s search traffic.
What’s the Big Deal?
Why is duplicate content so bad for your site’s traffic? Keep in mind that a search engine (Google) is run by a bunch of bots that crawl the web, searching through content to categorize and rank it. When a search engine finds duplicate content, how will it know which version of the content is more valuable if they are virtually the same? The search engine might split traffic between the two sources, which does not help your site traffic. More likely what will happen is that the search engine will completely ignore the duplicate content and favor web content that is unique and unrivaled by a duplicate.
How does Duplicate Content Happen?
There are a variety of ways that you might have duplicate content. The most common is having multiple versions of your site online: both the www version and the non-www name, or both http and https. In essence, you are creating duplicate versions of your own site, which will hurt your traffic. URL variations create a similar issue with duplicate content.
Maybe you’ve copied and pasted a blog post from another website and added it to your own site. This has inherent copyright issues, as well as being a bad practice as far as creating duplicate content on your site. (Don’t copy and paste from other sites. Ever.)
Another issue that creates duplicate content is called “scraping.” This is when unscrupulous web sites copy and steal your content for their own site. This is frustrating when it happens because the resolution is largely out of your control.
Solutions: How to Remove Duplicate Content
Depending on the cause of your duplicate content, the solutions are varied. The simplest resolution is to use what are called 301 redirects. You are redirecting web traffic to a single source. For example, you can redirect content from your http site to your https site so that it only counts in one place, not two. There are other more advanced things you can do to fix duplicate content, such as using the rel=canonical attribute and meta robots noindex, but let’s keep things simple for now.
Duplicate content is a real traffic killer, which will lead to the demise of your website. Keep your site current and unique to avoid losing SEO traffic.
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