Day 8 of the bigmouthmedia SEO Advent Calendar. You can read day 7 here.
Basics of dealing with Duplicate Content
In today’s SEO advent calendar post we will be taking a quick look at the basics of dealing with duplicate content on your site.
Duplicate content is a common issue shared by a large number of sites across the internet, from small personal blogs to large ecommerce sites. Google and other search engines have evolved to try and deal with duplicate content on sites by grouping duplicated pages found on the site and only rank the page that Google feels is the original page.
Although Google and other search engines will try and ‘tidy’ up duplication on a site and decide on their own which page to rank within the SERPs, it is still very important to have only one version of each page accessible on your site or you could end up splitting link equity across multiple duplicate pages instead of all links pointing to one page.
Here is a visualization of what could be happening to the external links pointing at duplicate content on your site.
There are a couple of ways that you can combat the splitting on external links across duplicate pages, and which technique to use will depend upon the type of site you are optimizing.
301 (Permanent) Redirect:
The optimal way to deal with duplicate content is to implement 301 redirects on all duplicate versions of the page, leaving only the one original version one the site. This will consolidate the majority of the link equity from the duplicate pages into the original page.
301 redirecting all duplicate version of the page will also mean that all future links created naturally for the page will be directed at the original page only, giving maximum benefit to the page.
Another way to tackle duplicate content on a site is to use the rel=canonical tag. The canonical element is a tag that you can add to the header of a page that is used by search engines as an indicator as to the canonical version of the given page. The canonical element acts in much the same way as a 301 redirect, but passing most of the link equity from the duplicate page to the original page featured in the canonical element, but the user and search engine is not physically redirected.
Due to the user not being redirected to the canonical version of the page, the user could end up linking to the duplicate, causing a percentage of the link equity to be lost in the canonical element ‘soft 301 redirect’.
Meta Robots ‘Noindex, Follow’:
The Meta robots tag positioned within the head of the page can be used to make sure that the page is not indexed within search engines but the links on the page are still followed.
Although this will remove the duplicate content from the results, no link equity will be passed onto the original version of the page.
- Parameter handling within Google Webmaster Tools
- Including unique content on all pages of the site
- Consistent internal linking