Plagiarism is a heavy topic not just in the academic world, but in the digital one as well. Duplicate content is a major issue for search engine optimization (SEO) and can have serious effects on search engine rankings and overall website visibility.
While you might be doing your best to create original content, there may be times that you unknowingly duplicated someone else’s content. There’s also the case of black hat SEO techniques where they intentionally duplicate content to try and get an edge on their competition.
Whichever the case, it’s important to be aware of how to prevent and fix duplicate content so that you don’t run into any potential SEO or legal problems.
What Is Considered Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content, in a nutshell, is when the same or similar content appears on multiple web pages. It can be within the same website or across different sites, but either way, it’s considered an issue by search engines and can have a negative impact on SEO.
Content that can be considered as duplicate includes:
- Copied and pasted content from another website
- Content that is substantially similar to another page, even without being an exact copy
- Content that is the same across multiple pages or domains with only minor changes
There can also be technical aspects to duplicate content, such as versions of the same page with different parameters or multiple URLs pointing to the same page. To illustrate:
These can all be seen as duplicate content from the search engine’s perspective. In this case, it’s important to ensure that all of the versions point to a single canonical URL.
We’ll discuss more about canonical URLs in the next section.
How Does Duplicate Content Happen?
Duplicate content is mainly caused by black hat SEO techniques, such as content spinning or scraping. However, there are other reasons why duplicate content can happen, such as mistakes when creating website content.
Some of the common mistakes include:
- Having multiple versions or URLs pointing to the same page
- Creating similar content for multiple pages on a website
- Using similar content across different domains
- Having multiple versions of the same page, like AMP and non-AMP pages
- Using too many boilerplate text or blocks of code on multiple pages
How to Detect Duplicate Content
There are several tools you can use to detect duplicate content:
1. Copyscape and plagiarism checkers
One of the most popular tools is Copyscape, which allows you to check if there is any duplicated text on your website. To use Copyscape, simply enter the URL of the page you want to check, and Copyscape will display a list of websites where your content may appear.
Other plagiarism checkers like Small SEO Tools and DupliChecker can also do the trick. All you have to do is copy-paste the article or web page you want to check and these tools will quickly scan it against their databases to display any potential duplicate content.
2. Google Search
A quick way to check for duplicate content is to do a Google search. Simply type in the exact phrase or sentence you want to check, and if any other websites have the same content, Google will display it in the results.
3. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is also a great tool for finding duplicate content. Under the “Coverage” report, you can find any pages on your website that have duplicate content.
4. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a powerful tool for detecting duplicate content. It helps to quickly audit your website for any potential issues, like duplicate content and broken links. Another alternative that works similarly to Screaming Frog is Xenu Link Sleuth.
How to Fix Duplicate Content
Once you’ve identified the duplicate content, there are a few ways you can fix it:
1. Implement canonical URLs
A canonical URL is an HTML element that tells search engines which version of a page to consider as the original. It’s important to include a canonical URL on every page to ensure that search engines don’t see duplicate versions as separate pages.
To specify your canonical URL, you can use the canonical link element, which looks something like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/page-url" />
You can also use the rel=”canonical” HTTP header to specify a canonical URL.
2. Use 301 redirects
A 301 redirect is a server-side response that tells search engines that the content from one URL has been permanently moved to another URL. By using 301 redirects, you can point search engines to the correct version of your page and avoid any potential duplicate content issues.
To implement a 301 redirect, you will need to add the following code to your .htaccess file:
Redirect 301 /old-page http://www.example.com/new-page
3. Use the noindex tag
The noindex tag is a meta tag that tells search engines to not index a page. This is useful if you have pages with duplicate content that you don’t want search engines to crawl. This will also prevent the page from appearing in search engine results.
To use this tag, you can add the following code to your HTML:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />
4. Report to Google
If you find any websites that are using your content without permission, you can report it to Google. Go to the DMCA page on the Google website, fill out the form, and submit it to Google.
This may not quickly fix the problem, but it will alert Google that someone is stealing your content and they may take action against the website.
How to Prevent Duplicate Content
The best way to prevent duplicate content is to ensure that all of your content is original and unique. If you do need to use someone else’s content, make sure to get permission first and provide proper citations.
It’s also highly recommended to conduct a regular audit of your website to ensure that no duplicate content is present. Staying vigilant and on top of your site’s content will help you avoid any costly search engine penalties.
For more SEO tips, visit our blog at https://www.ilfusion.com/blog.