How to Solve Duplicate Content in Search Engine Optimization

By 06/03/2018 April 18th, 2019 SEO
Brad Cooper From Bearpaw Partners Discusses Duplicate Content and SEO

Good search engine optimization (SEO) avoids duplicate content. Here is a transcription of our YouTube video on duplicate content-

Hey everybody, I’m Brad from Bearpaw Partners, a digital marketing agency in Atlanta, Georgia. Today I’m going to be talking about duplicate content and how it affects your SEO. Duplicate content is when there are multiple URLs with almost the exact same content, if not the exact same. Duplicate content is bad for two reasons. The first reason is when you have two URLs with similar content, you no longer get to choose which page will show in SERP results. Instead, the search engines pick the page for you based on criteria such as the page that was crawled first, internal links, and external links. The second reason duplicate content is bad is that search engines will often penalize your site and move your page dramatically lower in SERP results. Now that you know why duplicate content is bad, let’s go through what exactly search engines consider duplicate content.

Generally speaking, there are seven types of duplicate content that you may be overlooking, they are marketing parameters, affiliate tracking, parameter orders, www and non-www, HTTP and HTTPS, trailing slashes, and case-sensitive URLs. To fix all these issues there are three duplicate content solutions that you should be using, they are 301 redirects, index control, and canonical tags.

Let’s get started by discussing 301 redirects. 301 redirects is like telling the post office you’ve moved. A 301 redirect simply and permanently redirects one URL to another. In addition, a 301 redirect passes between 90-100% of the link equity to the final URL. There are four duplicate content instances when you should be using a 301 redirect; the first is www versus non-www; the second is HTTP and HTTPS, the third is trailing slashes, and lastly, we have case-sensitive URLs.

Now, index control. Index control for duplicate content can be achieved through either a robot.txt file or a no index and no-follow meta tag. You should be using this solution for duplicate content found in host naming issues such as sub-domains, content delivery networks, and testing environments. Some examples would be like this for a CDN or this for a testing environment. A robot’s .txt is the better choice when looking to stop search engine crawlers from listing an entire folder, multiple folders, or even an entire site- such as your testing server instance.

In a situation where duplicate content is just on a page or a few pages, a no index or no follow meta tag should be used. The no index and no follow meta tag can be inserted into the page header and will keep that page from being the cause of duplicate content.

Last but not least, we have the canonical tag. For starters, you might be asking what is a canonical tag? The sole purpose of the canonical tag is to remove duplicate content errors. By adding a canonical tag you’re telling search engines that there are two very similar versions of a URL and which URL is the preferred version to display your rank.

If we use the example of an e-Commerce configurable product, the main product page would be the preferred or canonical page, and then all the product configurations in those URLs would point to the main product page. Two more examples of websites that need canonical tags would be a site that shows property listings via filter or a site that allows you to show search results by ascending or descending order or even date.

You need to use canonical tags for parameter order, marketing parameters, affiliate tracking. One example where we sometimes see a canonical tag inserted and it should not be used is in pagination. For example, you have a blog post that is six pages long. In this case do not use a canonical tag pointing page six to page five and page five to page four, and so on. Instead, in this instance use the “rel” tags next and previous.

One last thought about the use of canonical tags versus 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is a permanent solution that physically redirects the website visitor to the preferred page. A canonical tag is a strong suggestion to search engines that there are one or more pages of similar or duplicate content and the canonical URL is the version that should be used.

Okay, that wraps up duplicate content. If you like this video please subscribe to our channel. If you have questions or comments, please write them below or visit our site which is in the link below. Thanks guys.