Duplicate Content The Honest Truth

Duplicate Content: The Honest Truth

If you’re concerned that the superb fresh content you’ve toiled so hard to create could become invisible if it’s duplicated elsewhere, read on. We’re here to help with this blog on the unvarnished truth about duplicate content, what it is and what to do about it.

The first thing to say – and this may seem startling – is that technically duplicate content penalties don’t exist, in that you’ll never see a notification from Google Search Content to this effect. However, and perhaps confusingly, you can nonetheless still be penalised if your website has similar content to another or several other web pages.

That’s because, if Google comes across this, its algorithm will identify the content to be ranked. Also, intriguingly, this ranking system can seem rather random, meaning that a lot of hard work can go to waste. Read on to learn more.

What exactly is ‘duplicate content’ anyway?

There’s no hidden meaning here – it is exactly what it sounds like it is; i.e. the same copy showing up on at least a couple of web pages. This content can crop up either on your own website, or one you can’t control. It’s NOT footers and so on, which understandably are going to display across several pages.

Checking for this content

You definitely need to check your website regularly for duplicate content, which can occur when your site is scraped and your content posted elsewhere and passed off as original. Clearly, people do this because cutting and pasting is so much easier and quicker than writing unplagiarised content.

So it’s worth monitoring regularly and there are tools available to help with this and alert you when it has happened. These include Semrush, Grammarly and Copyscape.

How much duplicated content is acceptable?

This remains something of a grey area and while many experts have tried to define it, a precise definition of how much duplication is OK doesn’t really exist.

So you may need to decide yourself what you feel comfortable with. One rule of thumb could be to have a minimum of 30% differentiation from the other copy – but you may well want to have more unique content than that.

Again, there are tools, in this case duplicate content checker or keyword density ones, which can compare pieces of copy and tell you how different they are from each other.

Resolving duplicate content

The principle for fixing duplicated copy sounds easy enough. After all, you just need unique content, right? As ever, though, the reality isn’t quite that simple. Clearly, Google likes copy showing expertise, authority and trust – or EAT.

However, rewritten words can read somewhat awkwardly, so get a new writer to draft them and get them to do so from scratch, without seeing the original version, to guarantee uniqueness of the content.

Advance duplicate content correction

If you face multiple instances of duplicate copy, for example if you run an ecommerce site where product descriptions may overlap, this issue needs particular attention. Automated methods for avoiding duplication can create pages which make no sense and will generate zero leads, making them meaningless if not actively damaging to your brand.

So unfortunately that means each page, or at least the category pages, must be reworked individually. Of course, this can take time. However, it’s not as if each page has to contain prose worthy of a Booker winner. Indeed, for product pages you’re typically better off keeping your words simple, straightforward and unadorned.

Talk to Front Page Advantage

At FPA, our specialist SEO employees guarantee fresh, unique and readable copy time after time. Talk to us about duplicate content and keep your customers engaged and spending – and Google happy to boot.