Duplicate content can bring down your website ranking and affect its domain authority (DA) scores. While Google may not directly punish a website, there’s always a risk of others reporting your website if it has plagiarized content. According to a study by Moz, more than 29 percent of web pages have duplicate content.
Now, you might be wondering, if 1.5 billion out of 5 billion online pages have plagiarism or duplicity, why are those websites still running?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the nature of duplicity, some common reasons for duplicate content, how it could be a threat to your site and what you can do to avoid it.
So, let’s get started!
Duplicated content is content that’s copied or plagiarized from another source. In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), duplicate content can be from the same domain, which may not necessarily mean plagiarized text.
However, according to Google and plagiarism rules, duplicate content is the type that appears in more than one place. This could be the same in headlines, text, body or even similarities between two passages or sentences.
Google says duplicate content could be “within or across domains,” which implies that duplicity within a website is just as harmful as outside of it in terms of search engine ranks.
There are four main types of duplicate content:
Internal duplicity, as mentioned before, is the type when two identical or similar pieces of content exist within the same domain. While external duplicity is when a website’s author has copied content from another domain, or vice versa.
Exact or direct duplicity or plagiarism is when a writer copies another author’s work without crediting the source. Then, patchwork plagiarism is when chunks and pieces are changed to avoid plagiarism detection. Lastly, content similarity can be accidental, but it’s still harmful and a threat to your website.
As mentioned before, plagiarism is the primary reason for website duplicity, but there are other reasons, such as double-indexed pages. Therefore, to help you steer clear of duplicate content, here are some of the most common reasons behind it:
Plagiarism is one of the primary reasons that could affect a website. While Google may not directly punish a website due to the high possibility of accidental duplicity, should a website owner complain about plagiarism on your domain, yours might be removed from Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
Double indexing is when a page is indexed once or twice in Google. This could happen intentionally or unintentionally, but avoiding similar-looking pages from a domain is imperative.
As mentioned before, plagiarism can happen within your domain, except for instance, like these where you may have content on your website that’s updated:
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If you have two articles like this, then make sure the previous one is deleted or taken down. Or, better yet, replace the content with the same one to avoid indexing confusion.
Duplicated URLs of the same pages can also cause this problem. For example, suppose an image has a separate window within a blog. In that case, it might cause the crawler to read it as two separate URLs, causing double indexing and duplicity.
Now that we know about the various types and reasons behind duplicate content, all that remains to understand is its negative impact.
In any setting, duplicity or plagiarism is deemed unethical. Therefore, it’s not much different in the world of SEO. So, here are a few things that threaten your website if it has duplicate content:
While it’s rare that Google penalizes a website for duplicate content, it’s not impossible. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the main reasons websites tend never to get featured on Google again. That is if they’re penalized for plagiarized or duplicated content.
Google states that if the search engine’s guidelines aren’t followed, then a few problems, including the most severe penalties, might be:
Therefore, if a website is penalized, then there’s no chance it will ever rank again. However, if it’s accidental or you’ve fixed the problems with your domain, then Google has a guide to removing websites from such penalties.
If a website has too many duplicity occurrences, search engine crawlers will stop indexing it altogether. This will happen if a website has an overabundance of similar pages, particularly something like a product or service website. For instance:
As you can see, in both these occurrences, the similarities are visible, and Google’s AI is very cunning at these matters. While the page’s content might differ, the similarities are still harmful. This could cause the crawler not to index any of the two pages based on their duplicity.
On top of that, if both pages have similar or duplicate content, it would be worse. Google’s crawlers will blacklist the domain, and you will have non-indexed pages as long as your website stays online.
Perhaps the most harmful effect of plagiarism or duplicate content is the digression of online traffic. Since Google doesn’t index such pages or might even penalize them, it would surely mean lesser and lesser traffic for a website.
Therefore, once a website has enough reasons to be counted as one with duplicate content, the traffic will be drawn away to:
In simple terms, the traffic you might generate before duplicity will be redirected towards other similar websites. This is mainly because Google drives traffic towards a more suitable option, particularly if it doesn’t deem yours as a credible one anymore.
The one thing that’ll suffer the most throughout this ordeal is user experience. Users who tend to judge websites based on content or quality will be driven away. This means there’ll be no inbound traffic and no new users, causing user numbers to plummet along with your conversion rate and return on investment.
We know the threats and how they can ruin a website. So, to help you remove duplicate content from a domain, here are a few efficient options:
A plagiarism checker is your best friend for finding duplicate content within your domain. There are many free and paid versions available. All you have to do is pick the most effective one that meets your budget and run your content through it. Once you do, you don’t have to do much.
Paste the URL of your website in the search box and let the tool do its job.
Once you find plagiarism in your content, it’s time to remove as much as you can. However, you might not have to remove all your content. One option is to use a paraphraser to help rewrite the duplicated content.
Doing this will save you a lot of time and hassle, however, ensure you pick a paraphraser that can rephrase content naturally. It’s important to note that paraphrasing tools still need some human finesse to help the content read more naturally, and it’s likely that you’ll have to rephrase some of the paraphrased content.
The technical term called 301 redirects is something Google suggests website owners do. This allows Google’s crawlers to identify websites better.
Poor interlinking can also cause duplicity, especially if the two links appear within the content. Be sure to check for this and remove them wherever possible.
Cite sources to avoid plagiarism once you’ve paraphrased your content. This is one of the necessary elements of content creation and one of the easiest ways to avoid plagiarism.
Lastly, whenever you create new content, focus on originality. This will allow you to avoid the aforementioned hassle of plagiarism.
Now that we’ve highlighted some common types of duplicity and the potential harm it could do to your website, you can start putting measures in place to resolve duplicity issues your site may have and avoid them in the future.
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