Duplicate content occurs when content on the internet appears on more than one website domain. Duplicate content can impact search engine rankings, like Google Search, where the system may have difficulty identifying which of the search results is more applicable or relevant, due to the content being the same.
How does Duplicate Content Occur?
Duplicate content may occur from a variety of factors:
URL variations that introduce click tracking or other analytics may create another version of a URL that hosts the same content as the original URL, inadvertently creating a duplicate site address. Similar, a common reason for duplicate content is when each user visiting a specific website is given a different session ID. Printer-friendly versions of the same content may also create another version of the same page, creating duplicate content.
HTTP vs. HTTPS may create different versions of the same page, depending on their prefix. If both versions are live and available, duplicate content has been created. WWW and non-WWW sites also create the same issue.
Copied content that is taken (with or without credit) from another page will create duplicate content. Scrapers that republish information, as well as different e-commerce sites publishing the same product information run into the issue of hosting the same content on multiple sites.
Pagination may cause the creation of duplicate pages, through creating comment pages or paginating longer posts.
Why is Duplicate Content Significant?
Duplicate content can have negative impacts on both search engine operators and site owners:
Search engine operators will be unable to differentiate between multiple sites hosting the same content, causing them to choose one, sometimes randomly, that is deemed to be more relevant for the search. They may also only choose one to include in their indices. Search analytics may also be confounded because the system may be unclear on whether to direct link metrics to one site or to distribute them among the multiple sites.
Site owners can suffer losses in rankings and traffic. This is because search engines will often limit showing multiple versions of the same content when pulling up search results. Therefore, when two or more sites host the same content and information, the search engine will be forced to choose which site is likely to be the best result, which will reduce the visibility of each of the sites. In addition, other sites that would link to the content also have to choose between the duplicates. Link equity is therefore diluted, as inbound links will be split between different sites rather than all directing to one place. Furthermore, because inbound links are considered in search engine rankings, the site may decrease in search visibility.
“Duplicate Content – SEO Best Practices.” Moz. Moz, Inc, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.
“What Is Duplicate Content, and How Do I Fix It?” Bigcommerce. BigCommerce Ptd, 21 Apr.
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