Duplicate content relates to a stuff that simultaneously appears on the Internet at more than one place. Meaning thereby, a copied version of content is also available on a page, other than the location that is specified with a unique URL.
Consequences of a Duplicate Content
Duplicate content affects the working of the search engine as well as disturb the search engine rankings of a site. To know how it affects both the search engines and the site owners, let’s take a quick look at the issues they could possibly face.
There are three main issues, which may cause trouble for the search engines:
- Inability to choose between the original version or duplicate one
- It is not possible to direct the link metrics to one page or relate it to the multiple versions
- Search engines can’t decide as to which version should be ranked for a particular query
The major loss that site owners may suffer includes a decline in ranking and traffic. This situation makes things more complicated by introducing two more problems.
- Search engines will often preclude to show each of the multiple versions of the content. Hence, none of the versions takes its place on the search result
- Link equity is also disturbed as other sites can’t choose between duplicates. On the contrary, the inbound links are also pointed to the multiple pieces; hence, spreading the link equity among all the duplicates. Since inbound links are used as an effective ranking factor, their absence can negatively influence the search visibility of a content
Fixing the Issue of Duplicate Content
You can only fix the menace of duplicate content by specifying that which one is the original piece of content.
If a content is available on more than one URLs, it needs to be canonicalized for search engines. There are three main ways to do this including:
- Rel=canonical attribute
- 301 redirect
- Meta Robots Noindex
You can address the issue of duplicate content by using rel=canonical attribute. It tells search engines that a duplicate content or page should be considered as a copy of a specified URL. Moreover, it is also specified that all of the content metrics, links, and ranking power should only be credited to the original URL specified in the attribute.
You need to add this attribute to the HTML head of each duplicate version. In addition, “URL OF ORIGINAL PAGE” portion above should be replaced by the link to the canonical or original page. The attribute works in the same manner as 301 redirect, since it passes the same amount of link equity (ranking power). As it is implemented on the page, it requires less time to implement.
In most of the cases, the best choice to combat duplicate content relates to setting up a 301 redirect. The action is directed from duplicate to the original content. When all these pages are combined they stop competing and create a stronger relevancy.
Meta Robots Noindex
Meta Robots, is a meta tag that is used to handle the issue of duplicate content. This tag can be added to the HTML head of all the duplicate pages to excluded them from the search engine’s index.