You may have noticed that the subject of duplicate content has been a popular subject of debate in recent times. I aim to explain simply what duplicate content is, why it is best avoided and how to prevent your website being penalized by search engines. (By penalized I would like to point out I do not mean Google will remove your site’s index from its search results; rather it will filter out all pages other than what it deems to be the ‘master’ page.)
Duplicate content is identical content which appears in more than one place either within your own site or on different external sites. Some people assume that having duplicate or similar content on multiple pages or sites will increase their chances of being listed in search engine results. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, search engine robots crawl through pages recording all content along the way. Where duplicate information is found, search engines often remove or filter the duplicate listing altogether, classifying it as spam.
So now we have established why duplicate content issues are not desirable, we must discuss how to avoid them. Where the duplicate material appears within your own domain the solution is simple. Avoid repeating material where possible. Ensure the url of the preferred/master version of the page is listed in your sitemap. And manage all internal linking carefully, ensuring all minor pages link back to the preferred/master page.
Where the duplicated content issues are found on external domains there is still a lot you are able to do to manage the situation. There are sites specially set up to help you check for other domains with content very similar to yours. If you find that someone has published your content without prior permission, I suggest you write to the website owner, requesting that they remove the said text. If you receive no response and wish to escalate the matter further you can report it to Google. As a last resort, consider modifying your own text, perhaps even improving it further! The duplicate content filter used by search engines can sometimes punish innocent sites’ who have no intention of spamming them.
What is clear, however, is that it is in your website’s best interest to ensure all published information remains as unique as possible. Eliminate and avoid duplicate information as much as possible and try to keep all published text new and fresh.