It was recently announced by John Mueller at Google that Googlebot is capable of picking up on copy content before it has even been crawled.
And a question arose does Google consider a translated page say in French to be a duplicate version of the original English version? This question is also valid for content in the same language, and that Google may define a page is similar if the URL has similar parameters with pages that are no different.
What is Classified as Duplicate Content?
The general classification of duplicate content are chunks of similar or paraphrasing content that completely match other content. Often this is not sinister or malicious and designed not to be so.
Examples of this could be:
- Content reporting on discussion forums and stripped down pages that are deliberately targeted at mobile devices.
We all know that duplication of content can be a way to manipulate rankings and to get heavier traffic. When this is done to deceive then quite often user experience suffers.
If your site has many pages with the same or similar content then there are a number of different ways to show your preferred URL. This is named canonicalization.
If you have a page that can be found by multiple URL’s, or different pages with the same content then Google often sees these as versions of the same page. When this happens Google will simply select one URL as the canonical version and crawl that page.
Google will make this choice automatically unless you direct Google to do otherwise. There are benefits for you to choose a canonical page, you may want to consolidate links, simplify tracking metrics, to manage syndicated content etc.
Why is Duplicate Content so Important?
There are three main points that duplicate content can impact search engines:
- Google can get confused what version to include and what version to ignore.
- Google can also get confused which to rank for search results.
- Thirdly there is confusion where to direct the link metrics.
The Implications of Duplicate Content for Owners
Site owners can suffer problems when duplicate content is found, this can affect both losses in traffic and rankings. This all stems from two large problems:
- Google very rarely shows multiple versions of content that is the same, in fact this dilemma forces search engines to choose between the content. By doing so it dilutes the effectiveness and visibility of all the alternatives.
- Links can also be compromised as other sites also have the same dilemma of having to choose. And because inbound links help in ranking this also implicates the visibility of the content.
This all adds up to the content not achieving the visibility in search results.
How Do Duplicate Issues Arise
Not all duplicate content issues arise from blatantly copying text and are not deliberately trying to fool search engines. It is estimated that only around 30% of the web contains duplicate content.
Here are some other ways that duplicate content is not deliberately created:
- Variations in URL’s, some URL’s may have analytic coding and click tracking that causes duplicate content issues.
- HTTP versus HTTPS and WWW versus non-WWW pages. You site might have different versions of www.abc.com and abc.com and the same content lives at both pages and these pages are visible to SERPS then you may have duplicate content issues.
- Content includes blogs and editorials and information pages such as lists etc. Any site that replicates these information pages also may have duplication problems, this is a common occurrence in e-commerce sites.
The Big Fix
The way to fix duplicate content is by specifying which one is correct so Google and other search engines can identify it.
The three ways of doing this are:
- Set up 301 redirects to the correct page
- The rel=canonical attribute
- The parameter handling tool in the search console
In most cases the 301 redirect is the best and most effective way to get indicators pointing to the correct page.
If you do have problems with Google detecting duplicate content on your site it is probably wise that you have a professional digital marketing look into it for you.
Voova Digital are the experts at knowing issues such as duplicate content and the implication to your site of its effect. Contact one of our knowledgeable advisors today if you are concerned by this issue.