How Does Duplicate Content Affect SEO?
The problem of duplicate content is not often mentioned in site reviews or discussions on SEO forums — however, it can cause considerable harm to your site.
Keyword cannibalisation occurs when several pages of the same site contain the same or similar keywords, thereby preventing the search engine from choosing which of the pages is most suitable for displaying in search results for a given word.
This phenomenon not only irritates site owners but also badly affects the rating of the resource, placing the website among the erroneous or unwanted search results for a specific query.
What is the reason?
It usually occurs when the information architecture of a site requires the mention of a certain word or phrase on several of its pages. Often, these repetitions are not done on purpose, but they can lead to the fact that the same keyword will appear in headings or title tags of several pages at once.
Duplication often occurs when companies place additional content on the site, creating blog posts, or add multiple landing pages containing identical keywords.
Many people think that such actions will help increase traffic for these keys, but that is a delusion! And even the quality of the content created in this case will also deteriorate — after all, its author will use the same information in several texts.
Sites containing category pages with similar products or text are also prone to duplicate content.
So that similar category pages do not compete with each other for a place in the search results, and also so that the page you need is displayed among the search results, be sure to analyse how you structure your content and place target keys. Make it clear to the search engines that although category pages are all about the same topic, they still represent different areas of your business.
Another possible reason for keyword cannibalisation is the configuration feature of the CMS itself (content management system), which results in multiple page URLs with identical or very similar content appearing throughout the site.
How does duplicate content affect SEO?
While browsing the pages of your site, the search engine sees that some of them appear to be equally relevant to a specific keyword.
Let’s say someone wants to buy dog toys in Melbourne. The keyword in your query is “dog toys Melbourne”: just because it appears on one or more pages of your site does not mean that Google will consider your site more relevant to dog toys than your competitors’ sites. Rather, Google will have to choose among several pages on your site, deciding which one best suits your query. In this case, many of the tools used by this resource lose their significance.
Anchor text. Due to the fact that you link to several pages at once, united by one topic, the weight is not concentrated on the link with the anchor and therefore is not transferred to the page we need.
External links. If 4 external links point to one page of your site with the keyword “toys for dogs”, 2 donor sites link to another page with the same key, and another 7 resources have a link to the third page of your site containing similar content, then you are scattering the inbound link weight across the pages instead of concentrating it on one of them.
Content quality. If an author writes four articles in a row on the same topic, the quality of the content won’t be up to par, will it? It’s better to have one page that attracts the most inbound links and referrals than a few unremarkable clone pages.
How do I prevent duplicate content?
Connect site pages
If you are writing about WordPress, it will be difficult to cover this topic in one article, because its volume will be about a million words! Instead, the article can be split into several posts, the titles of which will contain the keys you need, for example: “How to install WordPress”, “What are WordPress plugins”, “How to install WordPress themes”. Now the keywords are divided into articles and are not repeated!
Use a canonical URL
If you can’t connect the pages together, use another solution. Using a canonical URL, you can concentrate the weight of several similar pages on a site without changing its interface. By placing a canonical link, you will demonstrate to the search engine which of the pages on the site is most important, and therefore should be displayed in the results for a general search query.
For example, if you are selling an item that comes in different colours, clarify which version of that item is appearing in the search terms with the highest search volume, and include a tag that points to the page with the most popular version. The page that canonical links point to will appear in search results for general queries related to this product.
If the user specifies in his request not only the name of the product but also its colour, the product page with the corresponding colour scheme will remain indexed — it will be shown in the search results, despite the presence of canonical tags.
Distribute keywords by topic or segment
Before adding keywords to your site, or even before selecting them, try to break your list of words into blocks that will include all possible queries by which users can find your site. This will help you distribute similar (but not the same!) keywords across different sections of your site.
Thanks to a clear understanding of which blocks are suitable for your site, as well as the ability to analyse the performance of the keywords included in them, you can find the most constructive solutions for SEO optimisation. And if you need help with that SEO Melbourne will come to rescue.
Make a Keyword Map
After selecting the most suitable keywords and breaking them down into segments, you can create a sitemap and distribute keywords across its pages.
This will allow you (and everyone else on the site) to see exactly where each keyword will appear — a strategy that helps avoid duplication.
Former Google employee Matt Cutts once said that 20% to 30% of resources on the Internet are duplicate content. While we are not sure if these numbers are still relevant, duplicate content continues to appear on every site. There is no need to take this news as a bad one. Fix what you can and don’t try to turn duplicate content, akin to copied and meaningless content, into a viable SEO strategy.