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Learn everything you need to know about duplicate content in this article. We'll walk you through what it is, why it's harmful, and how you can ensure you avoid getting penalized for having this type of content.

What Is Duplicate Content?

What is duplicate content

Duplicate content refers to entire pages or blocks of content on the same website or different websites that are either entirely the same or incredibly similar. The technology for recognizing duplicate content is improving and evolving all the time.

It is expected that websites will use competing pages to determine what type of concepts you need in your own pages to rank, but when doing this, you must ensure your pages are 100% unique. Always use your voice, perspective, and creativity when you take inspiration, concepts, or heading ideas from competing resources/pages.

How Is Duplicate Content Bad For SEO?

How duplicate content can hurt SEO

Duplicate content harms SEO because it shows search engines that your website isn't a unique, authoritative source of information for the topic you're targeting. In addition, duplicate content can get you penalized, preventing your content from appearing in search results altogether.

When creating content for your website, your entire goal is to ensure everything you make aligns with modern best practices for creating quality content. The best way to do this is by studying what constitutes quality content according to search engines and focusing on creating within those guidelines.

What Is Considered Duplicate Content

What is considered duplicate content

Duplicate content can exist in two forms. One is cross-domain, meaning one website copies content from another website. The other is same-domain, meaning a website copies its own content site-wide or on multiple pages.

Cross-Domain Duplicate Content

Typically, when duplicate content is created, it is because a less reputable source has directly copied content from a more reputable source. This would be an example of cross-domain duplicate content.

Same-Domain Duplicate Content

In the case of same-domain duplicate content, however, it happens when a website has two or more pages that are essentially the same aside from certain slight variations.

For example, a common occurrence is landing page creation. It's common for websites to create landing pages for various cities while only changing the text that directly mentions that specific city. This tactic might have worked years ago, but Google now deems this to be duplicate content.

How To Avoid Duplicate Content

How to avoid duplicate content

The best way to avoid duplicate content is just by not duplicating content in the first place. It's perfectly fine to take inspiration from a competitor, but you have to make it your own. Try to improve upon any inspiration you do take. 

3 Examples Of Duplicate Content

Three examples of duplicate content

Below, we'll share three of the main examples of duplicate content.

Landing Pages

Landing page duplicate content example

In terms of same-website duplicate content, landing pages are by far the most common examples of duplicated content. When you are creating landing pages, keep in mind that you need to ensure all aspects of those landing pages are completely unique and city/state specific.

You can have boilerplate content. Boilerplate content is not considered duplicate content. According to Google SEO patents, there are systems in place for recognizing and ignoring boilerplate content.

But where you run into issues with landing pages are instances where the only thing you replace is the name of the city/state while keeping mostly everything else the same from page to page.

Redundant Content

Redundant duplicate content example

Redundant content can be considered duplicate content if there isn't enough of a variance in the topics that are being covered. For example, if you make two or more sections on a page that essentially say the same thing, or if you make separate pages that talk about topics that are so similar they should live on the same page, these are both examples of redundant content that might get you penalized for those specific pages.

The best way to avoid creating redundant content is to plan out your content carefully. You should be careful when planning your URL structures and the heading structures you're using to flesh out each page itself. You need to really think strategically about what headings will exist on your pages.

Cross-Domain Duplicate Content

Cross domain duplicate content example

Cross-domain duplicate content is created when you either directly copy/paste content from a competitor or create content too similar to theirs. Now, again, getting inspiration from a competitor's page is fine. The issue arises when you don't improve upon that resource by adding your assets, voice, experience, words, and understanding to the points/topics you've taken.

How To Resolve Duplicate Content

How to resolve duplicate content issues

The best way to resolve duplicate content depends on the type of duplicate content you're dealing with.

If it is duplicate content associated with landing pages, you'll need to take the time to create unique, original, state/city-specific resources for each page.

If you're dealing with redundant content, you need to sit down and determine how you can combine the duplicate sections/pages into one section/page.

If you're dealing with cross-domain duplicate content, you'll need to rewrite the content entirely, ensuring you are writing unique, quality content in your own way. Make your resource more comprehensive and helpful to users than the page you took inspiration from.

Depending on your industry, this might mean spending a lot of time creating content to do this properly. But, in all honesty, if creating a better resource is out of budget, it's far better not having the page at all rather than getting flagged for duplicate content.

Things To Remember About Duplicate Content

After reading everything we've covered about duplicate content throughout this article, we'll leave you with key points to remember moving forward.

Duplicate Content Will Get You Penalized

You want to avoid duplicate content because if search engines flag your website for it, you will get penalized. At first, it might just mean the duplicate content drops out of search engines and is no longer indexed. But, if not resolved, you will also experience more severe penalties.

Duplicate Content Will Hurt Your Rankings

As mentioned above, the pages that have duplicate content will be suppressed in rankings. Eventually - if not resolved - the guilty pages will be deindexed entirely. This means they'll be removed from search results completely, let alone drop in rank.

Duplicate Content Will Lower Domain Authority

Duplicate content can lead to search engines hurting the ranking potential of all of your pages site-wide. The reason for this is that websites guilty of copying content from themselves or other websites are typically lower-quality resources.

The whole purpose of a search engine is to serve up the best, most reputable, trustworthy resource in response to a user's query. This means that if you show search engines your website is low quality, none of your content will rank.

Duplicate Content Will Impact Important Metrics

If you have duplicate content, it can easily cause users to lose trust in the quality of your website. This will lead to a higher percentage of your users leaving your pages sooner. In addition, these users will be less likely to return even after you improve these issues.