Yes it’s true, the odds are that your website has duplicate content. Most website owners don’t even realize this and it is a big problem for ranking on the first page of Google. The reason is because Google does not like duplicate content or even very similar closely related content for that matter. The search engine does not know what page to rank, because the pages are too similar.
Below are the 7 most common items of duplicate content issues that should be fixed in order to receive the highest rankings for your website and your hard work.
1. To WWW or not to WWW? (Nerd Terms: Rel Canonical)
When websites are created there are actually two identical versions of the website. For easy separation of the two we will call them version 1 and version 2. Either version to use is fine, but you must choose only one.
Version 1: is http://mysite.com
Version 2: uses the www prefix such as http://www.mysite.com
Solution: When you choose to go with or without the www prefix, a 301 redirect must be included in the website to tell the search engines which version you will be using. This 301 redirect will send all the traffic to the version you wish to use when the www or non-www is typed in to the address bar. It will also help the website rank better because there is no longer a duplicate version of the site. Here is more information regarding redirects (moz.com/learn/seo/redirection)
HopInTop Pro SEO Tip: Choose wisely. If your site has been around longer than a month, one version could be better than the other. Powerful links could be pointing to one version versus the other version of the website. Check the page rank, domain authority, and links pointing to each version using open site explorer to see which version is the best choice.
2. Duplicate home page
Yes it’s true, there are usually duplicate versions of the home page also. You may have seen a URL read like this http://www.mysite.com/index.html Well this is a copy of your home page.
Solution: To remove this duplicate content, simply 301 redirect the http://www.mysite.com/index.html to http://www.mysite.com/ along with any other copies of the home page.
3. Page Title & Page Description (Nerd Terms: Meta Tags)
Each and every page is its’ own real estate and should be focused solely on the item or keyword for which it should be found. Therefore, there is no need to create twenty-five pages focusing on the same keyword or product.
Solution: Each page should have an original Meta title tag and Meta description tag. These Meta tags should be focused on the keywords you want the page to be found for and they should sound natural, not spammy.
4. On Page Text (Nerd Terms: Content)
Noted in the previous paragraph, each page is its’ own real estate. Therefore, each page should have original text as well. Copying the same text to multiple pages in order to increase rankings is a spam tactic known by Google. There are recommendations regarding the amount of characters (letters) it takes to make a page unique.
Solution: My recommendation is to have a bare minimum of 300 characters on the page. The more characters the better because Google loves text on the page. It is even said that upwards of 1,000 characters gets a lot of attention from the search engines.
5. Categories, Tags, Archives
Duplicate, duplicate, duplicate. These items are pulling content from other areas of the website, usually the blog. Of course, they are going to be duplicate.
Solution: No Index these pages so that the search engines know not to index them and they will basically ignore these pages. Therefore, your rankings will not decline because of these extra pages. Learn how to No Index pages.
6. Product pages
All too often product pages are populated from a third party supplying the same product descriptions across multiple ecommerce websites, as many people subscribe to their service. Google has made announcements that they are adjusting for this, but the reliability of this is still unsure.
Solution: It is best to create original product descriptions for every single product. Yes, I know it is going to be very time consuming and yes, there are some quick fixes while you are trying to sort through all these products.
These shortcuts will create completely unique content for product pages:
Shortcut 1: Allow for people to write a written review of the product on the product page of the website.
Shortcut 2: Allow people to ask questions about the product on the product page of the website.
Shortcut 3: Any unique way you can possibly think of to get people to engage and create free content on your website is well worth it.
7. Search pages
When people search on your website using a built in search tool they are actually creating more pages. These pages are essentially duplicates of other pages since the search tool is pulling information from within the website it self.
Solution: You will need to dive into your robots.txt file and disallow indexing of these pages. Here is a handy guide from seobook on how to construct your robots.txt to perform this action.