man tying duplicate content on a keyboard

The first thing anyone learns about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is that a website’s content is a major ranking factor in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). And, that is why many people are afraid of duplicate content and how it impacts their SEO efforts. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people have duplicate content on their website and, usually, it isn’t intentional or malicious in any way, shape, or form. However, duplicate content does impact your SEO, just not in the way that you might think. Continue reading below to learn more about duplicate content and whether or not your website will actually be penalized for it. 

What is Duplicate Content?

Put simply, duplicate content is substantive blocks of content that can be found in more than one place on the internet–whether it’s found on multiple pages of your own website or it’s found on two or more different domains. Duplicate content additionally refers to content that either completely matches the other content or is very similar to the other content. So, even if the content isn’t exact wording, it can still be deemed duplicate if it is similar enough. 

Does Google Penalize Your Website for Duplicate Content?

Many people are under the impression that Google penalizes a website for having duplicate content. On the contrary, Google themselves have confirmed that they do not penalize a website for duplicate content, however, duplicate content still impacts your search engine rankings and can be a detriment to your SEO efforts. 

So, Why Does Duplicate Content Matter?

There are several reasons why duplicate content matters to search engines. But before we dive into the specifics, it’s important to understand the purpose of a Search Engine. The main goal of a search engine is to provide its users with accurate websites and information for their given search query. If they don’t provide the most reliable, accurate information that gives the user what they are looking for, then the search engine isn’t doing its job. So, if your website has duplicate content, how do you think Google and other search engines choose which version of that content to serve to their users for a particular search query?  If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out the answer to that question, then you know exactly how Search Engines experience duplicate content — it simply confuses them. More specifically, here are the three main issues that duplicate content presents for search engines: 

  1. When duplicate content is present on your website, search engines will not know which version of the content to include or exclude from their indices.
  2. They also will not know whether to direct the link metrics to one page or keep it separated between multiple versions.
  3. Last, they will be confused about which version of the content to rank for which search query.

What if I Duplicate Content From Other Websites?

Duplicating content from other websites is not only frowned upon, but it also can affect your site’s SEO although you won’t technically get penalized for it. Oftentimes, if you duplicate content from another website, your content will be ignored by Google, thus you will have a very difficult time having the page containing duplicate content show up in SERPs. So, it is best to avoid duplicating content from other websites because original content is King and Google will reward you for it rather than ignore you.

What if I Duplicate Content from my Own Website?

Many people wonder how duplicate content from the same domain affects a website’s SEO. This is particularly concerning for eCommerce websites that have a handful of similar products with similar product descriptions. As mentioned above, duplicating your own content doesn’t lead to penalization. However, it does pose its own risks. 

While you won’t be penalized for duplicating your own content, your pages with similar content are competing against each other. So, Google has to decide which version of the content they want to serve to the user. And, it might not be the version you want shown to user for a particular query. Typically, the pages that have the most traffic and SEO equity will be prioritized in search engines and the page(s) with the duplicate content will not appear because search engines will not want to show two pages with the same content for the same query. 

Can I Just “Spin” the Content?

Google does, in fact, penalize your website if you spin content in an auto-generated way because Google sees auto-generated, “spun” content as deceptive and not intended to help the user but intended solely for SEO purposes. So, when re-writing your content, be careful about “spinning” the content and instead, make sure that the new content is very unique. 

How Can I Resolve Duplicate Content?

How you resolve duplicate content depends on your business needs. One common way is to simply re-write the content to be unique. This is the best option as it provides the user with quality information that can also help you reach your SEO goals. However, having unique content on every page of your website isn’t always realistic, especially if you have two products that are very similar or if you have currently have pagination integrated on your website. So, when you want to keep the duplicate content on your website, the best solution is to implement a canonical tag so Google and other search engines understand which page is the preferred version. The preferred version will be crawled and indexed. 

How Do I Know if My New Content is SEO-Friendly?

When you re-write your duplicate content to be unique, it can be difficult to determine if your content is SEO-friendly and puts you at a competitive advantage, especially if you aren’t an SEO expert. Luckily, there are tools out there that can help you with just that! 

At RankScience, our Content Insights tool offers you a way to analyze your content to make sure it’s following best SEO practices including keyword integration suggestions and SEO analysis of similar, competitor content. And the best part is that it’s quick and easy to use. Try out our 30-day free trial today and see how our tool can help you improve your content and out win your competitors


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