Duplicate Content Can Derail Search Engine Optimisation–Here’s How

Duplicate Content Can Derail Search Engine Optimisation–Here’s How

When providing services that include search engine optimisation and internet marketing, you find websites that are in different states of need. What one site requires to be more conducive to successful search marketing will be different from the next.

Duplicate content is something we find fairly regularly on clients’ websites, and although having the same copy in more than one place (URL) isn’t an offense that’s going to get you punished by the web’s equivalent of the firing squad, it does have the potential to derail you from achieving the high rankings and improved traffic you’re working toward with search engine optimisation. Because of this, we always recommend that our clients avoid duplicate content on their sites.

The following is a brief explanation of how duplicate content can affect a search engine optimisation campaign, and specifically, why it’s best not to have the same copy in more than one place on your website, or to even include large sections of text from another’s site (even if referenced properly), on your own website.

Duplicate Content & Search Marketing

Last July, Google’s Matt Cutts said duplicate content won’t get your website penalised unless the content is spammy. By ‘spammy,’ he meant stuffed with keywords, for instance. The problem duplicate content presents is that it forces search engines like Google to choose which URL they rank.  Search engines want to provide their customers (searchers) with the best possible experience, and they don’t think that search results where the same information can be found at more than one URL will satisfy searchers.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Your goal is to achieve the highest rankings possible through search engine optimisation
  • You have the same copy in more than one place on your website, or your site contains a body of text which you have copied and pasted from another website (even if you cited it properly)
  • When Google and other search engines find copy that is the same, they choose which URL they think is the original source for the text and rank that page in their results for specific keyword terms

Where this isn’t compatible with your overall goal for search engine optimisation is that Google doesn’t know which URL they should reward with rankings for the trust, authority and relevance the content exhibits; should it all go to one URL or be split between the two? If you took the time to write content so that it would rank well and bring new visitors to your page, why risk diverting traffic someplace else, right?

Duplicate Content that’s Unavoidable

Sometimes, there will be places on a website where duplicate content is unavoidable. Your site’s ‘Terms and Conditions’ policy could appear in more than one place, for instance. In these cases, our search marketing team would canonicalize the duplicate content with a 301 redirect. SAY WHAT?! This is precisely the sort of instance where working with a professional search engine optimisation company, who knows how to make your website as compatible for search marketing success as possible, is a worthwhile business move.

So even if Matt Cutts says your site will be ‘safe’ as long as you don’t publish spammy duplicate content, we think it’s best to avoid having multiple versions of the same text, all together. When it comes to search engine optimisation, the difference between what’s ‘safe’ and what’s ‘smart’ is high rankings and big traffic.

For more on this or any other search marketing query, call The SEO Company on 1300 88 55 57.

About Paul Gregg


Paul heads up [g]commerce and The SEO Company, and is responsible for the overall management. Paul's experience extends from various roles in sales management for large domestic and international publishing firms, as well as global digital marketing companies.

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