What is duplicate content?

If you’re worried about duplicate content, then you’re worried about duplicate content. It’s pretty normal, and duplicate content is natural.

Duplicate content is one of the biggest problems affecting a website. It is one of the main reasons why search engines do not like duplicate content, and also why people discover duplicate content in the first place. A freelancer that writes content should be able to help you avoid it.

When duplicate content happens on a site, it means that there are multiple instances of a single product, a single piece of information, or perhaps even numerous pages with duplicated/spun text in them. People tend to think of duplicate content as simply two versions of the same page being present on a single website. In reality duplicate content can include all sorts of things: Every instance above can cause duplicate content to occur.

What is duplicate content?

“Duplicate content, or duplicate published web site pages, can be a problem but it doesn’t necessarily need to be,” says Google’s Gary Illyes. “If you *have* duplicate content then *you are creating a problem for yourself*. You shouldn’t solve the duplicate problem by removing the duplicate.”

He explains that although Google may not want duplicate content on your page, it doesn’t actually “punish” sites for having duplicate elements within their overall content.

Instead, if you have too many copies of similar elements across multiple pages – e.g., individual product listings on an ecommerce site – Google will take this into consideration for ranking purposes, which have a knock-on potential effect on duplicate content penalties.

But if you have duplicate elements across multiple pages, and these duplicate elements aren’t really duplicate content because they’re different in each place – e.g., the same individual products from different sellers – then Google will rank them separately (which is good).

Gary Illyes refers to this as having “relative duplicate content” vs “absolute duplicate content”. The latter can get you into trouble for duplicate content; the former won’t. He says that it’s best practice to keep all of your main duplicate elements in one place only and strive to make each of those places unique enough that it doesn’t create duplicate content penalties.

Is duplicate content a problem?

It’s not a problem! It’s actually a really simple fix, all you have to do is… Well, it depends what type of site you’ve got. I’ll cover static sites and CMSes later in this article because there are some subtle differences. For now, let’s assume that you’re working on an actual website (not just part of one) with 100% control over the code and server architecture – so essentially everything works exactly like WordPress but without any plugins affecting how it renders pages or anything like that.

In such circumstances, the best thing you can do is duplicate the original article, then remove anything you don’t need from the duplicate (in this case duplicate content ). Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

If you have 100% control over your site and are happy with how duplicate content affects traffic to your site (and thusly revenue), then duplicate all of your pages when writing new articles. If that worries you about lost search engine rankings , see below for how you can avoid duplicate content penalties entirely – but note that in order for this to work without hurting your SEO at all you won’t be able to include any internal links from the original page into the duplicate version .

You’ve probably guessed by now what these duplicate pages will be used for: they’re usually used to describe something more in-depth that would be way too lengthy or complicated to describe on the original article (both duplicate versions will need images/videos/anything else you use on a page). Here’s what duplicate content looks like in a search engine:

As you can see, duplicate pages hurt your SEO efforts. If Google or Bing finds duplicate content from other websites such as forum posts or blog comments, it may penalize those other websites for having duplicate content. You don’t want that penalty.

However – if you don’t have any kind of web presence at all and someone happens to stumble upon one of your articles they’ll have no idea who it was written by, which may be the duplicate content penalty you get because Google and Bing can’t tell who the duplicate content is coming from. If you want to be found in search engines but don’t have a website, just put your meta description (which I’ll talk about next) on each article along with author information behind a link which says “Read more at [URL]” like this.


Now that we understand duplicate content, let’s learn about duplicate meta descriptions. A duplicate meta description does not carry over if your page references another page of yours within the body of text (for example, if I write an article called “How To Get More People For Street Fairs” with a duplicate title tag of “Street Fairs” and one section mentions my blog post where you can find more information on the topic, duplicate meta description doesn’t apply because those two pages are different).

If you have duplicate meta descriptions, your duplicate content penalty will most likely be worse. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: every optimizer should read Google’s guide to duplicate content penalties. Especially if you’re building sites or working with clients in competitive niches where duplicate content can be a problem. Even if you don’t see duplicate content as an issue, follow all of Google’s advice for avoiding duplicate content problems that could lead to penalties and eventually destroy any rankings progress you may have made.