If you need to overcome duplicate content, you’re in plenty of good company.
Up to 1/3 of webpages offer duplicate content:
- Google says 25% to 30% of the World Wide Web has duplicate content.
- A study of 888,710 websites by Raven found that 29% of the webpages may be duplicate content.
Some search engine optimization (SEO) experts believe that your search engine rank can be hurt by duplicate content. Others say that’s a myth.
Why is there so much duplicate content?
The reasons for duplicate content range from benign to malicious:
- A manufacturer requires sellers to use the same verbatim product description, so the same description appears on hundreds of websites.
- A web page has multiple versions: HTTPS and HTTP, or WWW and non-WWW.
- Someone quotes a paragraph or two of your blog on their page.
- Someone scrapes your content to use it on their website without permission. When this happened to me, I challenged the website owner, who blamed an intern – before taking down the duplicate content.
SEO experts who express concerns about duplicate content say:
When search engines get confused by multiple pages with the same content, they don’t know which page to index and rank. The risks: search engines may choose the wrong page, or divide the authority and backlinks among multiple pages, diminishing each page’s authority.
If you decide to overcome duplicate content problems on your website, there are options to consider:
- Do an audit of your website(s) to identify pages of duplicate content. Choose the one page that gets the best traffic, then update it by adding content from other pages to it – to create your one best page on that topic.
- Use 301 redirects to point to the best page.
- Use canonical tags.
- Add a meta robots noindex tag to a page.
- Delete duplicate content.
Google says, never mind about duplicate content
Maybe you don’t need to do anything to overcome duplicate content. Why? Because Google says it does not penalize websites for duplicate content unless it detects a malicious or misleading intent.
See video: How does Google handle duplicate content?
Users want related content bundled together
When I think about how to overcome duplicate content, I worry more about what users want than what search engines want.
More than half of users say they want all the related content on a given topic bundled together. In Demand Gen’s 2018 content preferences report, more than half of B2B buyers strongly agreed that packaging relevant content together would expedite their research process.
Specifically, B2B buyers want content organized on websites by industry, business role, industry vertical, organization size and location, as you see in this chart:
Don’t make users hunt all around your website to find all the content you offer about one topic. After someone consumes content on a given topic, suggest related content on the same topic – as we do at the bottom of each blog.
Here’s what SEO experts say about duplicate content:
- Amanda Gant at Orbit Media asked a half-dozen experts what to do about duplicate content (question #1 in her blog).
- Rand Fishkin did a whiteboard video about what to do about duplicate content.
- Patrick Stox at Search Engine Land calls the duplicate content penalty a myth.
- Anna Kucirkova at Connex Digital Marketing offers the definitive answer to the duplicate content penalty.
“How do you overcome some duplicate similar content – content that covers the same things?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing. Here are the answers.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.