Duplicate content is often widely misunderstood among SEO practitioners; it is either a cause of considerable concern or ignored completely. Essentially, duplicate content is a piece of content that could be considered largely like another piece of content published on the same (or another) website.
Google’s algorithm distinguishes between content that is similar to other pieces published online which are reporting on the same topic, and content between sites that are close copies.
In other words, where a news article is discussing the same major points about a story, it’s difficult to write the article completely differently because the facts of the story are the facts and shouldn’t be noticeably different. These instances are usually fine due to the content similarity being understandable.
However, with duplicate content, you’re looking at passages that are the same or almost the same. Situations where blocks of content have been directly lifted and pasted into another page or post would be considered a duplicate.
Google is Getting Smarter Around Context
Google tends to do a reasonable job discerning the difference between common pieces of content – like a popular quote – and content that’s just covering the same ground. While services like Copyscape will pull up a quote or a product name and say it’s a duplication, it’s fair to say that Google’s AI is far superior to that of Copyscape.
The Search Engine is becoming skilled at recognising context and relevance within individual pieces of content even without the benefit (or encouragement) of SEO in the form of links pointing to the content with suggestive anchor text. Google can now figure things out for itself more often than it could even a couple of years ago, what the content is all about.
Consequences of Duplicate Content
Site owners and SEO agencies should be aware of the risks of duplicate content. While Google doesn’t like to refer to sites getting penalised, the reality is that when there are too many pages on the site with content that is almost a complete copy of another site (either in the network of sites owned by the same company or other types), sooner or later, trouble is coming.
The page itself could lose ranking positions and be unrecoverable without resolving the duplicate content issues. When a site has a substantial portion of its pages noted as duplicates, a site-wide penalty could result.
How to Avoid Duplicate Content
Avoiding duplicate content is best done by coming up with original articles and not taking an existing piece of content from another site and repurposing it by performing a straight rewrite. When rewriting from existing articles, there’s a tendency to not stray too far away from what’s already working and this is where the issues can arise.
When proceeding from a blank page with a fresh set of ideas and a clear voice to share with the readers, issues of duplication can be largely avoided. The idea is to provide added value to the reader even with a rewrite.
How to Rectify Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content is a major problem for established websites with hundreds or thousands of published pages. The task is an extensive one. Hiring writers to rewrite content or write fresh versions is one way to approach it, but when the task is extensive, you need experts who understand the ins and outs of the issue from Google’s perspective, to ensure the changes are sufficient to resolve the issue.
It’s also worth considering the design of the website. When the site looks too similar to the originating site that was the content source, this can create issues if a manual check is performed by Google. Efforts should be made in any modification of content to adjust the design to avoid the two sites remaining similar in appearance.
Matter Solutions provide a comprehensive service to identify duplicate content across one or multiple sites within a portfolio. We work through all the published content in a systematic fashion, identify the areas that need modification or fresh content, and pull in the writing resources required to fix the issue on behalf of our clients.