You are probably familiar with the term “search engine optimization,” or SEO. Put most simply, SEO is a way to improve a website’s chances of being found by people using search engines like Google or Yahoo. When a person enters a search term into a search engine, the search engine’s algorithms look for the absolute best match for their query. SEO is the science of incorporating elements into a webpage to make it appear at the top of search results. The tricky aspect of SEO is that search sites are constantly changing the rules that they use to determine what information will be most valuable to consumers, which means that websites must make tweaks to attract the search engine’s attention as well as to eliminate elements that might work against them. Duplicate content is just one such element that’s bad for SEO. Find out why!
What Is It?
Duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place on the Internet. If you are using the same content in multiple locations within your website or have multiple websites that feature the same content, you are confusing search engines. They don’t know which version of the content to use or how to rank the versions. This results in one of two things happening:
1. They will choose not to show either location, OR
2. Only one of your locations will appear in search results, to the detriment of the other.
The bottom line is that when you use duplicate content, whether it is in your page headings, on city pages, in reviews that appear on multiple sites, or between two different webpages, you end up lower in search results and miss out on the attention of potential customers!
How to Avoid Duplicate Content
There are a number of ways to avoid duplicate content:
1. Avoid creating it in the first place!
2. If it has been accidentally created on a large site, in many cases simply redirecting duplicate content back to the primary URL or linking back to an original article eliminates the problem.
3. Some duplicate content is very easily fixed by disabling session IDs in your system’s settings.
4. Some duplicate content can be fixed by eliminating printer-friendly pages, which are completely unnecessary if you simply use a print style sheet.
In many cases, a website owner is unaware that they have a duplicate content issue, but Google Webmaster Tools provides the ability to check for it by entering your site and then looking under Search Appearance -> HTML Improvements. This will reveal duplicate titles or descriptions and help you to make the appropriate changes. One way or another, eliminating duplicate content is a task worth taking care of, as doing so will likely boost your page rankings quickly, resulting in more traffic to your site!