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What is duplicate content and how does it impact your SEO

We all know that content is king when it comes to SEO. 

However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, copying content from a competitor’s website will do your website no favours. This is known as duplicate content. 

Duplicate content can come in many forms; it’s not just stolen content. 

So what is duplicate content, and how does it impact your SEO? 


What is duplicate content?


Duplicate content means there are two or more versions of the same content on two different websites. 

The content doesn’t have to be exactly the same. Instead, it can just have a high percentage that is similar. 

So what are the different types of duplicate content? 


  • Internal duplicate content: this is duplicate content which appears on two different pages within your own website. 
  • External duplicate content: this is duplicate content which appears on two different websites.


Internal duplicate content can often be accidental or unavoidable. Website owners will often have limited ways to explain their business, and this will appear on numerous pages within their own website. Those who have eCommerce websites will often find themselves with duplicate content when writing content for the products they sell.

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Multiple versions of the website


Duplicate content can also be caused if your website has numerous different versions. For example, your website may have both http and https versions live. This means there will be duplicate versions of your website live, with two versions of the content. 

To avoid this being an issue, make sure you use canonical tags. This will tell search engines which is the master version of your website, and you will no longer have multiple versions of the website running. 

How does it impact your SEO?


So now you know what duplicate content is, you need to know how it impacts your SEO efforts. 

One common SEO misconception is that Google will penalise you for duplicate content. This isn’t necessarily the case. However, it can negatively impact your search engine rankings. 

In regards to external duplicate content, Google will factor in which content was published first. This means if you are the original author of the content, and someone else publishes the same content on their website, your website will generally rank higher, as Google can see it was published first. However, if the other website has a higher domain authority or gets more traffic, you may see the competitors website ranking higher.

While you cannot control external content, you can control your internal content. It is duplicate internal content which may cause problems to your SEO. 

Search engines crawl websites to understand what each page is about and if they best respond to a query. 

If two pages have the same or highly similar content, this can create problems in regards to rankings. 

While the traffic will still be going to your website, Google may rank the incorrect page. If your meta titles, descriptions and on-site content are the same, Google may choose to rank a different page than you intended. 

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How to find duplicate content


Once you know what duplicate content is and how it can impact your SEO, the next thing to know is whether your website is impacted, and how to go about fixing it. 

You can use tools such as Copyscape which will tell you if there are other sites which have the same content as yours. Simply enter a URL, and Copyscape will scan for duplicate content. It will highlight where on the other website there is duplicate content, and what percentage of the page is duplicated. 

If you are looking for duplicate content within your own website, you may wish to use tools such as Siteliner. This will show:

  • Duplicate content
  • Average page size
  • Average page load time
  • Number of words per page
  • Text to HTML ratio
  • Common content
  • Internal links per page
  • External links per page
  • Total links per page
  • Inbound links per page


This site will also put your website on a percentile, so you know how your website compares on average with other websites. 


How to fix duplicate content


So what should you do if you have duplicate content? 

If the duplicate content is internal, the solution is easy – simply write new content on the pages with duplicate content! 

If the content is external, it is trickier, as you do not have control over the other content. 

If you can see all of your content has been stolen, you may wish to pursue legal action, and send the offender a cease and desist. You can also inform Google by reporting the duplicate content under the “Copyright and other legal issues” options. 

If the content has only partially been used, you may still want to undertake legal action, or you may wish to simply ignore it. After all, chances are your content will rank higher. Make sure you use canonical tags with your content, so search engines will be aware that your version is the original version. 


Are you interested in SEO or content marketing for your business? Contact Patch Agency today.

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