In order to have a successful website, one of the key goals is to ensure that your content gives search engines plenty of good quality text for it to crawl and index. Websites that have more text, have more opportunity of being picked up by search engines and therefore stand the best chances of appearing in the organic search results.
With this in mind, website owners find themselves continuously competing to add more pages of content than their competitors, especially since the introduction of business blogging. The problem this then brings is website owners struggle to come up with new ideas of things to write about, so end up re-writing someone else’s work in an attempt to pass it off as their own, creating duplicate website content.
What Is Duplicate Content?
To put it simply, duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one location. When a search engine discovers duplicate content, they find it hard to decide which version is more relevant to a search query. Search engines rarely show duplicate content in their results, which means they will end up choosing only one version and discarding the rest.
When it comes to SEO, we are always told how bad duplicate content is and to avoid it at all costs. There are many techniques used to avoid such problems, including 301 redirects, canonical URLs and no index, no follow.
Is Duplicate Content Always Bad?
With all the SEO talk going around about duplicate content, plus the ever-growing list of processes being put in place to ensure content is original, it is no surprise that website owners now panic about having the smallest piece of duplicate content on their website.
But, the truth is, the Internet is saturated with duplicate content. In fact, one-quarter of the web is repetitive or duplicate in one form or another. No one person knows every single piece of content on the web, so it is impossible to know if the content of your website is 100% original all the time. Search engines, such as Google, understand this and wouldn’t penalise you for a small piece of text that reads the same as another site.
Search engines are not out there looking for you to make a duplicate content mistake, they simply want us to produce content that is as original as possible and that adds value. Obviously, they don’t want us to ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ page after page of information and pass it off as our own, but they do expect a little duplicate content here and there, so website owners should never panic or become obsessed.
How Does Google Handle Duplicate Content?
Matt Cutts is head of Google’s spam team and he says somewhere between 25% to 30% of the web is a duplicate. Watch the video below, taken from their Webmasters Help section, which explains how Google handles duplicate content and when it does become a negative impact on your search results: