While prevention is always better than cure, most businesses have published duplicate content in one form or another. The majority of brands do this by mistake. It’s unintentional and there are steps you can take to avoid repeating the same mistakes. There are tools to check for duplicate content so you can remedy any issues.

There are a minority of websites that duplicate content intentionally to steal the SEO thunder of a piece of content that is already ranking highly. The intention can also be to sway search engine rankings or get more traffic. Copywriters that plagiarise content also sit with the intentional group. Again there are tools to check for all of this. We’ll get on to these later.

So, before we look at the cure, it’s important to take a look at what we mean by duplicate content, why you need you to be vigilant and the preventative steps you can take to avoid it in the first place.

What is duplicate content?

Let’s go straight to Google on this. It says:

“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”

Why do I need to avoid it?

Here’s the thing – Google asserts that duplicate content on a site is not in itself ground for a penalty. However, we’re getting back the importance of intent here – if Google detects that the duplication was deliberate to manipulate search results or attract more traffic – a website may be removed from search results.

If the same content appears on multiple pages or elsewhere on the web then Google will not know which version to show its users. It will go with the version that it thinks most matches the search query. This may not be the version you want them to see.

Duplicate content can have a negative impact on your reputation for producing unique, high quality content. If you simply republish content, visitors to your website will quickly catch on that you are posting stuff they’ve already read. They will probably not want to come back.

What steps you can take to avoid all of this?

Repurposing content – you’ve written or commissioned a killer piece of evergreen content and you want to use it again. The best way to do this is to update the original piece and add an ‘Editors Note’ at the end of the piece letting your readers know when the original post was published and that it has been completely updated to keep it contemporary.

Guest posts – you may want to get an original article in front of a wider audience. Influential third-party websites are a great way to do this. You can republish the article as a guest post. It’s helpful to ensure that the website links back to the original so Google detects which version you prefer search users to see. The same principle applies to syndicated content.

Reduce boilerplate text repetition – if you want to repeat the same information on every page – just use the full text once and then summarise on other pages.

Make similar content unique – if you have many pages with very similar copy, consider how to make the copy on each page unique or how to bring them together as one page. If you haven’t got the time or resource to do this in-house, a copywriting agency that specialises in SEO copy can rewrite the copy so that each page ranks highly on search engines.

Hire a reputable copywriting agency who guarantee unique content .

You can find more advice on how to use internal links correctly and much more from Google here.

Checking for duplicate content

For duplications on your website – try a content checker like Siteliner which checks for internal duplication. The free version caters for businesses looking for a monthly analysis of up to 250 pages. If you’re looking for unlimited analyses, Siteliner Premium scans up to 25,000 pages and the analysis costs $.0.01 per page – sign-up is free.

See our post 5 great duplicate content checkers for more information on this and the other tools out there that businesses and copywriting agencies can use to check for duplicate content that has been plagiarised by another website or copywriter.

What next?

Have you been hit by a duplicate content penalty? What tools do you use to check for duplicate content? Let us know in the Comments below.


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