The Dangers of Duplicate Content
When the Googlebots scroll through the endless website pages on the Internet and stumble over duplicate content, they have some choices to make. In the best-case scenario, they will choose one of your multiple pages as the “original article” (but perhaps not the one you would have preferred to get the ranking). In the worst-case scenario, your page may be removed from the rankings altogether as Google may assume you were copying another website’s text and trying to manipulate the algorithm. It is best to avoid this issue altogether. Google has a long list of ways you can get hit, but here’s a few easy things to avoid:
- After a wild, caffeine fueled night of pounding on your keyboard, you can’t wait to share your amazing content with the world. You spread it far and wide, pasting your words to a few different blogging platforms and pass out. While you are sleeping, the Googlebots have to decide which of these posts are the “original” and what they decide may not be where you are hoping for hits.
- You might understand the risks of duplicate content and know to avoid using the same wording in multiple places- but your Content Management System (CMS) may generate multiple URLs to the same content. Although only saved in one place once (the database), the content may be visible on the home page, in the archive, and at the address you gave it, etc. Having multiple URLs of the same content will confuse the Googlebots and, again, they’ll have to make a judgment call that may not make you happy.
- Maybe you offer “printer friendly” versions of your content- that’s helpful for your customers and generally makes life easier, right? Except, you know, for those overworked Googlebots who now have to decide if they are ranking your website page, or the URL for the printer friendly version.
Search engines don’t want duplicate content clogging up their ranking pages. This is also a way the search engine is trying to protect you from “spammy” websites that use duplicate content to attract more hits- but often an innocent website can get caught up in this trap. How can you avoid it?
First, just don’t post duplicate content on the web in the first place. If you want to share your content, post it in one place and then promote it by using the same URL every time to direct people to it. Next, learn about your CMS platform and use workarounds to keep yourself from being hit. You can also tell Google which URL you want them to index. This will work well in cases where you see multiple URLs directed at the same content on your site as well as dealing with your printer friendly URLs. Remember, the Googlebots are looking to remove malicious websites, not take you down. Help them help you, and let your content shine.