Duplicate content has always been a heated debate in the SEO community. So, how exactly does it impact a website's ranks in SERP?
There are always studies and statistical research regarding plagiarism and duplicity. The world of SEO isn't any different, as many experts suggest there are 29-30% of web pages on the internet with duplicate content.
To put that into perspective, that's 1.5 billion pages out of the 5.2 billion pages in total. That's a lot of pages when you consider the fact that 90.63% of pages generate no traffic from Google's SERP. So, does the duplicate content impact the other 9%? Or is it a myth that plagiarism or duplicity causes any problems?
There are definitely problems created by duplicity. But that does not mean it's as severe—unless the intention is malicious by the owner of the website or blog with duplicate content. Therefore, let's dive in and analyze what duplicate content is, how it impacts ranks and how you can avoid it.
Duplicate content is a vast term when it comes to SEO. The most common thought in the mind of any common user will be duplicated or copied content—or plagiarism. While that's not entirely wrong, it's not the only type of duplicate content, but we'll talk about that in a bit.
Nowadays, the most common type of duplicate content in a website or blog is the one that exists within the same domain. For instance, two topics that look a little something like this:
Topic 1: How To Create Original SEO Content
Topic 2: 5 Efficient Ways TO Create Original SEO Content
As you can see, both these topics say the same things except in a rephrased manner. This kind of duplicity can earn a website some of the consequences that we'll address later in this article. However, it's not malicious. Google suggests the reasons behind duplicity can be such as:
That's why it's important to keep things original, with the intent of ensuring the topmost originality in topics and content itself. Now, technical SEO aspects can also yield duplicity in websites and blogs.
However, the duplicity of content is something websites and blogs should worry about the most. In other words, plagiarism of intentional or unintentional type. This includes:
All these types of plagiarism are the primary cause of duplicity in content today. Most websites and blogs today have a procedure to avoid plagiarism, and the reason behind that is to avoid the penalties or consequences of low ranks.
As mentioned before, plagiarism is when written content is the same as another text within the same domain or outside of it. However, duplicate content has many causes, and Google clears it up by stating a few reasons.
The best way to describe it is that plagiarized text falls into one of the types of duplicate content. However, duplicate content can be technical, not only written text. That's why it's imperative to understand that duplicity isn't necessarily plagiarism.
It can be simply caused by a technical error or lack of understanding of the technical aspects. Google calls this canonicalization—which is duplicate URLs. However, plagiarism happens only when ideas or texts are similar to a page in the same domain or another.
There are various types of duplicate content. As mentioned before, the primary reason could always be plagiarized text. However, other reasons that classify as duplicate content include these:
⦁ Duplicate Or Similar Topics
Duplicate or similar topics are one of the most common reasons behind websites featuring duplicity. While it's also a requirement to follow trends, if your topics are way too similar, or duplicate, then it could be a problem. For instance:
Topic 1*: Best Plagiarism Finders For SEO Bloggers*
Topic 2: Best Plagiarism Finders For SEO Bloggers (2022 Updated)
These are two same topics, and their URLs and even content will be similar to some extent. If you're doing this in your domain, make sure you remove the earlier topic/page from your domain.
⦁ Plagiarism In Otherwise Original Content
Plagiarism in your text will always be the primary reason behind your content having duplicity. That's why it's imperative to ensure plagiarism or duplicity from content outside of your domain doesn't exist in your text.
The types of plagiarism discussed earlier, such as mosaic or patchwork plagiarism, are the most malicious type. And, they are also the kind to more likely earn you a penalty from Google.
⦁ URL Duplicity (HTTP, HTTPS & Non-WWW)
If topics are similar, then URLs and other elements of a page will also begin to look similar. For instance:
As you can see, these URLs are an example of how the same URL can feature WWW, HTTP, or HTTPs.
This isn't that rare, but someone else copying your content on their website might get ranked ahead of you. This could happen if your original page wasn't indexed and the plagiarized page got ahead of you in the ranks.
This can be fixed by contacting Google regarding the website or blog plagiarizing your content. Therefore, look out for reverse plagiarism and avoid plagiarizing from other domains.
There are no official penalties imposed by Google for plagiarized content. However, duplicate or plagiarized content does affect your SEO ranks. Google's algorithms are made to filter out duplicate content.
So, that users don't run into the same thing twice. Effectively, this is the same as a penalty, as it prevents your page from ranking on SERP. However, to help you understand the importance of avoiding duplicity, here are six consequences of duplicate content on a website's ranks.
⦁ Lacking Top SERP Ranks
Perhaps one of the most common penalties, as mentioned above, is the loss of ranking on SERP. The first few ranked websites on the search engine results page (SERP) happen to feature only the websites with the key essentials required by Google. This includes:
⦁ Informative value ⦁ Solutions and answers ⦁ Originality and integrity ⦁ Proper on-page SEO tactics
As you can see, originality is an adamant prerequisite for a high-ranked website. In order to preserve that rank or rank a website even higher, it's imperative to ensure originality. That's why, whether it's technical or content issues, duplicity has no room in SEO.
⦁ Lost Credibility Among Audiences
If a website is caught having duplicate content, whether from other domains or from itself, it will lose credibility among its users. As mentioned before, the chances of duplicate content is found on a website are 30 out of 100.
This could lead to a website becoming known for duplicity of the content of their own and from domains outside. Therefore, it's imperative to avoid duplicate content. Once again, it doesn't matter if it stems from written text or technical aspects.
As a website owner, it's your job to ensure avoiding duplicity to avoid consequences—it's as simple as that.
⦁ Lost Credibility Among Competitors & Peers
When a website loses credibility, it also affects the domain authority, traffic, etc. Now, this also makes your website less than ideal for collaboration. As a result, backlinking and guest posting on your website will go into deficit. Mainly because:
⦁ Low DA scores won't bring guest posters
⦁ Affiliation or backlinking will dry up
⦁ Interlinking will not make an impact
⦁ Competitors and peers will outrank you
The last point is the one you should fear the most. Because if your direct competition outranks you, then there are no chances you will bring any traffic to your website. Because a lot of the users don't even look past the first five results on SERP.
⦁ Decreased Overall Traffic & Lead Generation
A business website depends a lot on traffic to convert leads. If there is no traffic, there are no leads. Therefore, perhaps the worst impact of duplicate content on a website is decreased flow of traffic. Since a page ranks lower or gets taken off Google, it won't be generating any traffic from there.
Then, no traffic will mean there are no potential customers or leads. As a result, it will impact business, sales, etc. Therefore, by now, you should be sensing a pattern about how the consequences of duplicate content get worse as we go forward.
⦁ Search Engine Crawlers Avoiding Your Website
When duplicate content is detected on a website constantly, Google begins to avoid it. In worst cases, it might even get blocked.
As a result, you won't find any search engine crawlers indexing your website—even if you tried manually. Therefore, it's a necessity to avoid duplicity in order to ensure an optimal result.
⦁ Worst Case Scenario: A Penalty By Google
If plagiarism is caught in your content and reported to Google, then it will blacklist your website. This usually occurs when the plagiarized content is copyrighted. This means unauthorized use of images, text, videos, etc.
You have to be really careful about ensuring the usage of original material. Therefore, make sure you're not using any sort of black hat SEO techniques.
Avoiding duplicate content on a website requires us to ensure a few key things. Here are six of them:
⦁ Use Plagiarism Checkers
To ensure your website is plagiarism-free, you should run it through a plagiarism checker and scan it for duplicity. The main benefit of using a plagiarism checker is that it will conduct a deep search for content similarities.
Now, the first problem many writers commit to is going for something that offers word count but not thorough scanning. Granted, proper word count is something you should look for, but also find a plagiarism checker that thoroughly scans the internet.
So, pick the one you think is best for you, then scan for it:
Here we've pasted the content, and it's ready for scanning. The aim is to go for 100% originality. If plagiarism is found in your content, then you must edit it out or remove it.
As seen here, plagiarism is found, and it takes up around 15% of our scanned text. If your plagiarism finder looks like this, then make sure you remove the 15% of plagiarized content from your text. Once you do, you'll have to check again to ensure its originality.
⦁ Use Citations & References
Citations and references are the best way to avoid duplicity. Suppose your content is found to have plagiarism. In that case, you can also locate the source using the plagiarism checker we mentioned before. This will allow you to locate the source and save it.
Now, once you rephrase or rewrite your content, you can use this saved source as a reference. In turn, you accredit the original author while avoiding plagiarism successfully.
⦁ Add Quotes Where Suitable
Quoting the original source is another way of avoiding plagiarism. If your content has duplicity, you can directly quote the original author instead of removing it. Will it avoid plagiarism? Yes, it will since you're giving the original source credit.
Furthermore, you can turn plagiarized content into an opinion piece. In other words, you can still mention the duplicated content as a reference/quote and comment on that. This will help you avoid plagiarism effectively.
These are some of the consequences of duplicate content and how you can avoid them. For any website to rank higher in SEO, it's imperative to lead with originality. Therefore, conduct a site-wide audit to ensure your website is 100% original in all aspects.