Duplicate Content and SEO

SEO

With Google Updates hitting webmasters on a regular basis, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure that your website was compliant with the Panda updates, particularly concentrating on duplicate content.

Duplicate content is high on Google’s priority list, so here is what you need to know.

Why is duplicate content an issue?

When thinking about SEO, it is important to remember Google’s objective – to deliver the best quality results to their users.  Now think about duplicate content… If there are two pages which have the same amount of keyword density and theoretically the same relevance (and I know that ranking takes into account more than just this!), then which page should Google send the user to?  This confusion means that Google will punish duplicate content as it can’t be sure which the best page for the user search.

Is it an issue for my website?

You don’t need to read every page on the internet, so there’s the good news!  There are a number of tools out there, but the one I keep coming back to is Copyscape.  All you need to do is type in the URL and it will search the web for duplicate content.  If you click on one of the results, Copyscape will calculate what proportion of words are duplicated – there is no hard and fast rule for what Google consider a duplicate page, afraid that is one of Google’s (many) algorithm secrets.  The only way to truly tell is to actually look at the page and use your judgement.

So how to I resolve this?

There is no easy answer to this one.  The first step could be to contact the webmaster of the site which has the offending content.  In some cases, they will remove the content as soon as you contact them, but in a lot of cases, this is a dead end – often the types of sites which copy content are not responsive to these requests!  So, you will need to go back and re-write the copy on your website.  No quick way of doing this, and it can be a huge job, but using this method will ensure that your content is unique.

What about translated pages?

I have come across a number of examples where duplicate content is an issue within the same company – for example, a British, Australian and Canadian website has exactly the same content as the US site.  It is resolved by using the method described above, but what about if the content is translated into, say, French?  Well, if the content is translated by hand, then this is not considered duplicate content.  But if the content has just gone through Google Translate without corrections of diction, then this is considered duplicate content.  If you’re dealing multi-nationally, this is one to watch out for.

Summary:

I have read with interest over the last month or so about marketers giving up on Google organic search because of the number of updates that Google is making.  But what is the alternative?  Are you going to rely on Pay Per Click instead?  If so, you’d better get a BIG cheque book ready!

For most people, search is far too important a traffic source to ignore, and if you can keep considering Google’s objective of delivering the best quality traffic, then SEO doesn’t always need to be the nightmare it is often perceived as.

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