For Better SEO, Avoid the Duplicate Content Penalty

There are a number of reasons duplicate content should be avoided for better search engine optimization. As SEO pro-tips go, to get the most out of your search engine optimization strategy, you should produce one piece of remarkable content that search engines compete for. It seems counterintuitive at first, as one might assume that the more of the same content produced, the better your chances are in ranking for content-specific keywords. However, when search engines find multiples of the same content they are forced to determine which piece is better.

Confusing the search engines can compromise your search ranking for your content-specific keywords as well as your website traffic. In looking at why you should avoid duplicate content, we found some common missteps in distribution that result in it. We also set out to further clarify what duplicate content is.

Examples of duplicate content:

  • URL Parameters. These allow each website page to dynamically pull from data sources and create accessibility so that one page can power an endless number of views. If your category URLs create multiples of the same page, you have duplicate content. URL parameters, such as analytics code and click-tracking can also create duplicate content issues.

  • Printer-friendly versions. Believe it or not, creating printer-friendly versions of your content also results in duplicates. Even though the source is different, having a version that is identical to another can contribute to search engine ranking issues. Whenever possible, avoid indexing multiple pages by relying on your visitors browser Print Page functionality.

  • Session IDs. Session IDs, being a common duplicate content creator, occurs when every website visitor is assigned a different session ID that the URL then stores. Keep in mind that session IDs create multiple versions of the same page. Therefore, avoid appending a session ID to the URL that the page maps to.

It might seem as though creating duplicate content is almost unavoidable, since there are so many common places they hide when creating a website. The best way to avoid it is to never create duplicate content in the first place. However, there are ways to remove duplicate content that already exists.

Here are easy ways to avoid and remove duplicate content for better SEO:

  • Be consistent. If you create a domain and it is determined by the webmaster that is the best version to use, then ensure each page connects to it. For example, use instead of . That follows the common webmaster guideline of making sure that the canonical version of a domain is the one that is linked to.

  • Use a canonical tag. Canonical tags, described by webmasters as the best thing to happen to SEO since the integration of Sitemaps, tell search engines what your preferred website page name is. This allows for search engines to decipher which is the page you want to map to in a keyword-specific search query. Canonical tags are applied to an HTML or H1 header on a page and, similarly to meta tags, attribute a description using a rel parameter. Rel parameters tell search engines how a page should be treated, as well as what metrics and content the search engines should apply technically to flow back to that URL. Rel parameters are identified by the following tag: <link rel=”canonical” href=”” /> and the integration of such reduces duplicate content.

  • Reduce any usage of similar content. For example, if you have a product page that offers the same type of shoes in both mens and womens styles, avoid posting about the same shoe twice, only changing the words men or women. Instead, expand the content to make distinctions in the fit and comfort of each and to each buyer persona.

  • Remove search engine duplicates. On webmaster tools, such as Bing and Google, you can avoid indexing duplicate pages. By creating unique content for each distinct page, you can avoid or remove duplicate content. Subsequently, by creating a unique url associated with each page that follows the tips outlined above, you can rank higher in online searches.

Search engine optimization is hands-on and constantly evolving. These are just a handful of SEO pro-tips from the experts at Horton Group to help you avoid the duplicate content penalty for a better SEO strategy. Are you ready to optimize your website? Contact us today!