What is Duplicate Content SEO? Is Google Penalizing You?
July 23, 2023


How to Check for Duplicate Content on Your Website

Often, you may not have realized there’s duplicate content on your website, but this should be a dedicated part of website auditing. There are multiple ways you can determine the URLs and location of duplicate content, both manually and through tools.

Manual Auditing

The easiest way to check for duplicate content is to put the main paragraph of the webpage content you have into Google and assess the search results. Here we have put into Google a main snippet of text and can see the top two search results are from the article (which is what you should expect to see). You can manually search through the results page. You may see some wording similarities, however, you want to assess how close the content is or if another page is ranking higher for that snippet of text.

Website Crawler Tools

If you have access to tools or website crawlers, there are often sections dedicated to full website analysis of duplicated content. Take the below snippet from Screaming Frog – you can see how many URLs, and how many exact duplicates or near duplicates there are. The same goes for Sitebulb too. These are useful for internal content only, alongside assessing duplicated metadata.

There are also a number of tools to access duplicated content information, some being free and some needing a premium subscription – for example, Grammarly’s plagiarism checker. There are however a number of plagiarism resources, so do your research and find one that works for you!

Is there a Google Duplicate Content Penalty?

No, there is not a specified Google duplicate content penalty. When a user makes that all important search, Google will determine which content is original. However, if your content is not original, your site can be penalized for malicious intent.

Duplicate content penalization depends heavily on how the content is used. If it is used to simply copy another website or spam multiple pages to rank higher, naturally search engines can recognize this and penalize the rankings.

From ‘Demystifying the Duplicate Content Penalty’ – “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

Ways to Remove Duplicate Content on Your Website

Some duplicate content is easier to fix but may be more time-consuming if you’re working with larger eCommerce websites. Here are some points to fix common duplicate mistakes:

Write Unique, Relevant, User-Centric Content

This goes without saying that duplicate content is best avoided by having unique content on each page of your website. You want to make it easy for a user to find what they need, when they need it, and offer value. If you have two similar pages, ask yourself, can the content be merged together to create one, highly-detailed page? Or are they two completely different topics that need to add their individual value?

Sometimes, this can be tricky. For example, if you’re not selling a unique product to your business only and multiple other outlets use the same manufacturer’s description. Whilst this is really relevant because the information has come from the manufacturer directly, you can still use the key points but add extra value. Think about additional points like when the product can be used, the product benefits, or any ways your expertise can showcase the relevancy of this product in search that sets it apart from other retailers’ content.

Use Canonical Tags

A canonical tag (rel=canonical) tells search engines which page is the main version of duplicate or near duplicate pages. The main version of the page should be self-referential, with the other versions canonicalised to the master page.

An example of this is on an eCommerce site with the same product but different options of the products. For example, you may have a product page for a pair of shoes, but this same pair of shoes also has page versions for different size variations. You therefore want Google to understand which is the main page to index and rank, and which are user options/ variations of this same page. The description is the same, but the change is the option chosen.

This can also span into category pagination on a website too, where the URL structure can be /pagecategoryexample/page-2 and /pagecategoryexample/page-3. 

Use 301 Redirects

If you have duplicate content that can not be sorted by changing the content or use of canonical tags, then it’s advised to use 301 redirects to the page you would like to be indexed. A 301 redirect is best practice as this is a permanent redirect signal for search engines and the user will automatically be sent to the end URL you have determined. This is helpful for search engines to understand and also to ensure the user finds the valuable information they’re looking for.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, make sure you set the bar high in your industry in terms of quality content and become familiar with the Google Quality Guidelines. Provide valuable, relevant information to the user about the product or service that cannot be found elsewhere. If duplicate content is necessary on your website, ensure the correct technical implementation is in place to not cause confusion and disrupt your organic rankings!

Go Deeper

Google Duplicate Content SEO Penalty – Real or Imagined?

Why Search Engine Optimization is a SCAM!

The Power of Artificial Intelligence On Google Search

What is Google SandBox? Is This A Real Occurrence? Or Myth?


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