Why Is Duplicate Content Bad For SEO?

Avoiding A Duplicate Content Penalty

What is duplicate content? Does it matter whether it’s accidental or if others are copying and pasting your content on their websites? For many small business owners of websites, these are very important questions. However, the biggest question of all should be, why is duplicate content bad for SEO? The quick answer is simple: Google sees it and will take action.

Duplicate content can be a threat to your website’s ability to rank well. The threat may come from others. However, it can also come from innocent errors you or your web developer make over time.

It’s essential to be aware of how duplicate content happens and what you should do about it. Why is duplicate content bad for SEO? Let’s find out.

What Is Considered Duplicate Content By Google?

A simple definition of duplicate content would be: 

  • Chunks of text that are 100% identical to text on another website. Literally no changes have been made. It’s strictly a copy-and-paste job. 
  • Text that is virtually the same as that on another site with only the tiniest, superficial differences. An occasional word will be changed here or there but it’s otherwise the exact same content.

There are some exceptions. For example, a website may legitimately quote from an article on another site. This sort of duplication, however, can’t be avoided.

Types of Duplicate Content

When talking about duplicate content, there are basically two kinds:

  • Internal duplicate content: this is when you are the culprit. Whether by accident or by intention, you’ve duplicated content across your own website.
  • External duplicate content: this happens when the exact same content is spread out across two or more different websites. We’re not talking about the odd sentence here and there being the same. We’re talking about entire paragraphs or web pages that are 100% identical.

Why Is Duplicate Content Bad For SEO?

Google tells us that they don’t actually impose penalties for duplicate content. However, that statement is deceptive.

As it turns out, they do filter “identical” content. That may not technically be a penalty but it certainly has the same effect. Whether you’ve been penalized or filtered, your ranking will decline as a result.

When faced with two bits of identical content, Google has to decide which of the two should rank. Maybe it will pick who actually wrote the content, but it could just as easily rank the site that stole it.

Why is duplicate content bad for SEO? This is definitely one big reason.

Duplicate Content: Internal

Avoiding the creation of internal duplicate content can be achieved in your on-page elements in part by:

  • Creating 100% unique page titles, meta descriptions and meta titles
  • Creating unique H1, H2 and H3 headings across your site

Google’s algorithm sees your headings and meta descriptions before it sees anything else about your pages. Therefore, it makes a great deal of sense to have absolutely unique headings on each page and blog.

Creating a unique meta description is a good first step to avoiding duplicate content, and it’s something you should be doing anyway. Unfortunately, Google may or may not use that description.

If it wants, Google’s algorithm may simply grab content from the page itself to display as a meta description. However, if your meta description accurately reflects the contents, Google may use it.

Duplicate Content: External

The biggest and more content-rich your site is, the greater the chance others will try to grab content from it.

Generally, they’re hoping to increase the organic search results for their website based on the excellent content you’ve created. They may lift your content outright or have a machine clumsily rewrite it while keeping your keywords intact.

When Google detects duplicate content between sites, it will have human eyes review the sites to determine who is stealing from whom. In general, it’s a good idea to scan the internet for your content elsewhere. If you find it, report it to Google.

Why Is Duplicate Content Bad For SEO? You Know the Answer. What Are You Doing About It?

Custom content for small businesses is essential to keep search engines happy. Clearly, there’s nothing worse than a bad player “borrowing” your content to enrich their own website. It’s also bad if you have duplicate content on your website but don’t even realize it.

The answer to the question, “Why is duplicate content bad for SEO?” should be as obvious as, “Why is SEO essential for ranking?” For the work and money that goes into your SEO, it would be a shame to jeopardize it by making unnecessary mistakes like duplicating content. 

In the end, what’s called for is careful analysis and consistent monitoring of your website to eliminate any potential duplication errors. Dreamscape Marketing has the knowledge and experience to do this for you.

Call us at 888.307.7304 and let’s talk about how to make your website even more successful.