Despite the fact that Google has made it abundantly clear over the last year that quality content is the way to go, we still run into websites that are struggling with duplicate content issues. Some websites have somehow managed to escape detection, by doing juuuuust enough editing to not get caught, while others may have been hit without knowing they were doing anything wrong. So what do you do if you’ve been hit with a duplicate content penalty?
What is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content occurs when pages or parts of pages on your website are copied word for word from other pages. It can also happen when you repeat the same keywords and phrases over and over again. Mostly, duplicate content occurs when someone steals copy from one website and uses it on their own site (known as scraping), but you can get hit with duplicate content on your own website, as well. Well-meaning web design or branding companies may have created pages using the same verbiage to “maintain your brand” or “create a consistent message.” Unfortunately those well-meaning tactics can have potential consequences for your search rankings.
How Do I Fix It?
If the duplicate content is on your own website, you’ll have to dig yourself out of the hole manually. The first thing you’ll need to do is go over your main pages and re-write them so that each page is unique. Don’t stuff your pages with keywords. Keywords are important, but your pages must read well and flow nicely. Potential clients will immediately leave your website if your content is poorly written, and Search Engines are starting to notice keyword stuffing, as well. Just be yourself and be honest about your products and services and you can’t really go wrong.
The next thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have a blog. Your blog is the place where you can really stand out among your online competitors. If you make yourself a resource for your clients and potential clients, that is, if you provide them with information that they need an can’t find anywhere else, they’ll keep coming back. They’ll share your blog posts among their friends on their social networks. And more importantly, you’ll have new, unique content uploaded to your site regularly.
If someone has stolen your content, you have a different situation on your hands. When Google spiders crawl the web and sees that two different websites have the exact same articles, they have to make a determination. Google will choose, based on outside cues, which website is the BETTER resources for that particular article and rank it highest. If someone has stolen your content and they outrank you, you can report them to Google for scraping your stuff. Google has made it clear that they consider duplicate content to be web spam and will penalize culprits accordingly, so if you are being penalized for somethign you didn’t do, it’s important to get it taken care of quickly.
Finally, if you are one of those people who owns 10 different domain names to sell the same products, you are doing all of your websites harm if you place the same content on all of them. Ideally, you should redirect all of your domains to one, singular website. The days of owning 10 domains for one service are long gone. If you refuse, or have some legitimate business reason to own 10 domains to sell one service, make sure your content on each site is unique.