Duplicate Content…What's the Big Deal?

By Chris Longo, Natural Search Supervisor, Content Solutions

Duplicative content has been a misnomer in SEO for years. It started over a decade ago with spammers trying to artificially inflate rankings by trying to rank for specific keywords multiple times but through different URLs. The engines became wise to this and allegedly heavily penalized sites that participated in this practice. Whether that was true or not it is a non-issue in today’s natural search space.

Duplicate content simply confuses the engine’s spiders. A search engine’s goal is to deliver the most relevant material to the user’s query. By having duplicate content on a site, a spider cannot decide what material to display to match the query so it chooses nothing on the site. These also have ramifications on overall crawl rate, indexing, and Google Page Rank.

As sites grow, morph, and new versions are introduced some content can fall through the cracks. Multiple URLs and pages that a webmaster thought were taken down are still active are just a few ways that rogue duplicate content can turn up on a site. Below are some steps on how to properly identify and deal with these issues on a site.

  • Run a complete audit of all URLs on the site.
  • Identify all potential duplicative content on the site.
  • For URLs, determine which one you want to use. For content, ensure that each page contains unique content.
  • Once the URLs are determined use 301 permanent re-directs to transition old pages to new. This will transfer link popularity and help the search engines to properly index the material you want seen. If this is not a possibility a canonical link would suffice.


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