Duplicate content

Duplicate Content: Unraveling Its SEO Impact and Solutions

It goes without saying that failing to SEO-optimize your web pages means that your content is guaranteed to suck. After all, a lack of optimization is often reflected in search engine rankings and web traffic, meaning that your website will fail to gain any traction whatsoever. In fact, “90.63% of pages get no organic search traffic from Google.” 

Conversely, properly optimized websites are able to climb the rankings, resulting in improved web traffic and business visibility. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can better your website’s SEO performance, such as by tackling the issue of duplicate content.

After all, it’s estimated that “between 25%-30% of the content on the web is duplicative,” whether this is caused by content scalping or poor website architecture. 

In this article, we’ll provide you with useful strategies that can be used to prevent content duplication across your website so that your site can continue to perform well.

Understanding Duplicate Content

What is duplicate content? 

As the name indicates, duplicate content refers to any web content that is duplicated across different web pages. This does not always refer solely to identical content but also to content that is very similar. For example, if the content is slightly rephrased or reorganized, this classifies as near-duplicate content.

Typically, duplicate content can be split into two categories: internal and external. Internal duplicate content occurs when a website owner duplicates content through the use of multiple internal URLs within the same website. External duplicate content occurs in instances where content is copied or scalped onto external pages. 

Both instances can lead to a range of duplicate content issues and affect the overall ranking of your page. In some cases, penalties may also apply.

SEO Impact of Duplicate Content

Is duplicate content bad for SEO?

Right now, you may be wondering why is having duplicate content an issue for SEO? After all, theoretically, if the content you are creating is high-quality and already optimized through the use of keywords and keyword phrases, it’s easy to believe that multiple variations of this page will work in your favor. However, duplicate content can actually mean that the search engines are unsure which of the pages should rank above the others, meaning that it could be harming your overall SEO performance.

Given that a first-position page ranking gets nearly 28% of all the clicks (and thereby, traffic), it’s clear that the issue of SEO duplicate content should be tackled sooner rather than later.

Common Causes of Duplicate Content

As touched upon above, there are many different causes of duplicate content, many of which are accidental and caused by a lack of understanding. 

Internal Duplicated Content 

One of the most common causes of internal duplicate content occurs when multiple different URL variations are utilized by web developers. For example, if you have WWW and non-WWW versions of a page or HTTP and HTTPS versions.

While there may be valid reasons behind having URL variations, search engines will likely view them as entirely separate pages, which means they’re automatically considered to be duplicated content. 

Sometimes, you create duplicate content on your website when selling products/services in different locations. For example, say you run a home cleaning business in several major cities. As clients within each location will likely add the location to their searches or use phrases such as “home cleaning near me,” it makes sense to set up a different page for each location. This way, you can benefit from the inclusion of town/city names and geographic tags. However, as your services are the same regardless of where the client lives, you may want to use the same content on each page. While this is logical in theory, in practice, it will make you guilty of creating duplicate content. As such, it is better to write original descriptions for each location, including unique meta descriptions, H1 and H2 tags, and subheadings. 

Externally duplicated content 

There are also many different forms of externally duplicated content, with the most obvious being scraped content. This occurs when a third party directly copies your content, such as articles or blog posts, without proper credit being awarded. Without being able to prove that your site was the originator of this content, this content duplicate can once again harm your rankings. 

If you notice that a third party is scalping your web content, it’s important that this content is removed promptly. You can kick-start the removal process by contacting the site owner directly and threatening further action if it is not removed promptly. If they do not remove the content, you can report the site.

Duplicate content can also occur through content syndication. This occurs when identical content is intentionally republished onto different sites. However, proper canonicalization, “the process of selecting the representative –canonical– URL of a piece of content,” ensures that your web page is considered the original source. This makes your website appear more authoritative and trustworthy, which can also help to boost your rankings.

Identifying Duplicate Content on Your Website

There are many different ways in which you can identify duplicate content on your website. For example, manually checking your website and keeping an eye out for URL variations can prove to be useful. While time-consuming, it is well worth the effort to ensure your website ranks highly. Otherwise, you may struggle to gain the traction that you deserve, which ultimately hurts your bottom line. Remember, the top three sites receive 75% of all web traffic, meaning falling anywhere below this could put your business (and finances) at risk. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin when creating non-duplicated yet SEO-friendly content, you could also benefit from completing an SEO Audit, which automatically evaluates your website’s SEO performance. Not only can this bring to light issues with duplicate content, but it can also help you rectify other SEO-related mistakes and errors. 

Exact match searching can also illuminate duplicate content issues, especially in the case of content scalping. To conduct an exact match search, simply copy and paste a phrase or paragraph of your web content into the search bar. If multiple results come up as exact matches, there’s sufficient evidence that some kind of content duplication has occurred, accidental or otherwise. By having this information to hand, you are able to take actionable steps against it moving forward.

Addressing Duplicate Content Issues

As mentioned above, it’s important any duplicate content issues are resolved quickly and efficiently in order to ensure your website performs well. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can remedy this. 

For example, you should begin by ensuring that you always write excellent and unique content for your website. This reduces the chances of you unintentionally creating near-duplicate content that exists on several other websites already and can help you climb the rankings. It also makes it easier for you to appeal directly to your target audience, as your content is markedly less generic and more geared towards their interests. 

You should also work to consolidate duplicate URLs into a single landing page, such as through 301 redirects. When used correctly, a 301 redirect will send all users to the same web page, regardless of which URL they search for. For example, users searching for the www. version of a page, and those searching for https will end up on the same landing page. 

You can add a 301 redirect to your page by: 

  • Heading over to the ‘publishing’ section of your website’s setting, typically located in the upper right-hand corner. 
  • Click on “Old Path” and type in the URL you wish to remove.
  • You’ll then be asked to add the new URL. Here, input the URL that you’d like to redirect users to instead. Once you’ve inputted this information, click ‘Add Redirect Path’. 

Adding canonical tags and meta descriptions can also help to avoid content duplication. Canonical tags allow you to clearly communicate with search engines as to which version of the page is the original or “authoritative” page. You can add a canonical tag by adding the phrase “preferred page” to the HTML code.

Using different meta-descriptions for different pages within your website (especially those that may host similar content) can also come in handy in ensuring your content does not seem too similar across the board. 

Coping with Content Syndication

Content syndication can be a useful tool through which you can drive traffic toward your website or business.  For example, when your articles or blogs are featured on different websites, you are exposing your content to a wider audience. However, when syndicating content, ensure that the proper backlinks and canonical tags are applied; otherwise, having duplicate content on different domains can prove problematic.

If you are writing guest posts on the same topic, try to use different introductions, headings, and subheadings throughout the text. This means that the content you’re uploading is more varied while still hitting the key ranking criteria mapped out by leading search engines. 

Paginated Content and URL Parameters

Paginated content typically refers to the process of splitting long-form content into several separate sections, sometimes across multiple web pages. This often breaks down longer bodies of text, making for a more enjoyable user experience. For example, you may have a separate web page set up for each of the services your business offers instead of including them all on a single page. Doing so makes it easier for customers to find specific information and also 

Again, canonical tags are key to ensuring that this is not flagged as duplicate content.

However, you should also try to keep your URL parameters (the words featured within your URLs to categorize your content) as simple or “clean” as possible. This is because using simple yet unique URLs makes it easier for search engines to categorize your content.

Duplicate Content in E-Commerce

E-commerce websites frequently deal with content duplication issues. This often happens accidentally when sellers use product descriptions taken directly from the manufacturer’s website. While this may seem like common sense, it means there are multiple variations of the same content scattered across different e-commerce platforms, making it hard for your website to compete. 

This can be remedied by working to write unique product descriptions for products sold on your e-commerce site. Remember, you can still use keywords to your advantage when doing so. 

Ongoing Content Maintenance and Monitoring

Regular content maintenance can help to prevent content duplication, especially when you consider the fact that it is often the product of human error. For example, you may accidentally create multiple URL variations of your pages, such as when creating a printer or mobile-accessible version of a specific page. As such, you should carry out a regular site audit, ensuring duplicate content isn’t holding you back from success. 

Google’s Approach to Duplicate Content

Different search engines take different approaches to duplicate content, though the most common consequence across the board tends to be poorly ranking websites. In some cases, Google will automatically “duplicate URLs into one cluster” when there are many different variations in existence. 

Google is also less likely to index websites that contain duplicate content. However, they do not hand out penalties for this behavior, unless the duplicate content is considered to be “deceptive” in nature. For example, if you notice that a third-party site is using your content (scalping) in an attempt to scam consumers/readers, you can have this content removed or taken down. 

Future-Proofing Against Duplicate Content

The easiest way to protect your website from duplicate content is through regular website updates and maintenance. This ensures that no errors, such as URL variations, slip through the cracks, making it easier to manage a search-engine-friendly website. 

However, you should also prioritize the creation of unique content above all else. Not only will this cement your place within the rankings, but it also enables you to differentiate your brand from your competitors, allowing you to stand out within saturated or competitive markets. This is due to the fact that you can hone in on your niche when creating content.

In order to avoid content duplication, web page owners should be wary of using AI tools to write/curate content. While this may seem like a quick fix, especially as they can churn out entire articles in just a couple of seconds, they rely on pre-existing content and will likely produce work that is very similar to that featured on other pages. As such, this can harm your website’s ranking. 

Using an SEO Auditing tool is useful when curating content, as it allows you to enhance the pre-existing content you’ve created to make it algorithm-friendly and likely to perform better overall. For example, not only can this help with duplicate content, but it can also be used to identify which keywords or keyword phrases you need to include moving forward. 


Content duplication is one of the biggest challenges website owners face when trying to improve their website rankings. 

Often caused by a simple error or lack of understanding, content duplication can severely impact a page’s ranking across all of the most popular search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing. 

At a time when the vast majority of transactions begin with an internet search (93%, per a recent study), ranking highly is essential.  This means that duplicate content problems must be addressed sooner rather than later, especially for businesses that may not be as established. 

Fortunately, this can be remedied rather easily by following the guidelines above. For example, you may simply need to set up a 301 redirect in cases where multiple URLS exist. This will create a singular landing page that all users are automatically redirected to while also showing the search engine that the content can be attributed to a singular location, as opposed to multiple different pages/sites.

Alternatively, you may simply need to spend some time editing your content so that you are not repeating yourself too often or using the same phrases and keyword sequences over and over again. Simply put, you may need to find a way to differentiate content across different pages. Either way, it’s entirely possible to curate a website that is entirely unique and free from duplicate content, even when working within the e-commerce sector, where this kind of issue is incredibly commonplace.

While all of the strategies outlined within this article are effective and will result in higher search engine rankings, conducting an SEO audit is perhaps the most effective. 

This is because it will allow you to tackle a multitude of SEO issues simultaneously while also providing you with actionable strategies to use moving forward. Our SEO Audit tool for example, can help you to enhance your website and get 10x more leads and sales.

If you’d like to learn more, please do not hesitate to get in touch today! We’d be happy to answer any questions you have, whether they relate to duplicate content or SEO-optimization.