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Don’t Be a Copycat – How Copied and Duplicate Content Hurt SEO

Posted on the 08 May 2021 by Shurby

You may have heard that old phrase, "Don't be a copycat!" But just in case you haven't, a copycat is a person who copies another's behavior, dress or ideas. Or, for the purpose of our humble blog post, content. Copying content can be problematic for many reasons - foremost among them, it can hurt your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and lead to copyright issues. Plain-language translation: the owner of the original content could sue you!

Whether you manage SEO for your website on your own or you employ SEO services with a digital marketing agency , it's important to follow best SEO practices in order to rank high on search engines like Google and provide visitors with a satisfying user experience that will boost your conversion rate. Copied and duplicate content inevitably lead to the exact opposite results.

What's the Difference Between Copied Content and Duplicate Content?

While the terms "copied content" and "duplicate content" are frequently bandied about, they are not synonymous. The first refers to text that's copied-and-pasted directly from its source, without attribution. That means the blog, website, etc., from which it was taken isn't given credit - nor is the author, if the source material has a byline. Also, copied content isn't hyperlinked to its source. The website visitor is led to believe the text is all original work.

Duplicate content refers to your own content that appears in multiple places on your website or on other websites. This can occur for several reasons, which we will soon cover.

Copied Content and Duplicate Content Can Drop SEO

There is no question that copying content is bad for SEO. In her article for Gwe Cambrian , Kerry Ferguson notes that copied content is unoriginal and does not provide value for visitors to your website.

"Aside from the fact that it is lazy marketing , it can also have a negative effect on your search engine optimisation, and as a small business, this is an aspect of being online that you are probably relying on."

So how can copying content negatively impact your website's SEO? Search engine algorithms are designed only to promote one version of any piece of content, and the original website of the content is much more likely to be ranked far higher than a less popular website with copied content. When it comes to duplicate content within your own website, search engines like Google will have difficulty choosing which of your pages to rank on search engine results pages. Likely, only one page will be selected, thereby drastically decreasing the chances of users visiting other pages on your website, and dragging down page visits.

Causes of Duplicate Content

Copied content is pretty straightforward as content that is directly copied from a website other than your own without proper credit. When it comes to duplicate content , the causes may not initially seem so clear, as many are often technical in nature. According to SEO Trade News , potential causes of duplicate content include:

"WWW" or Non-"WWW" - When developing your website, be sure to stick to one version using either "WWW" in the URL not using "WWW," but not both. Both versions are equally accessible by most web browsers, but search engines can sometimes count them as two separate duplicate entities. The same can also happen with "HTTP" and "HTTPS."

Repairing Duplicate Content Issues

The best way to fix copied content is to remove it and create original content. recommends the following steps for fixing duplicate content issues originating from your own website:

Google Search Console - You can visit Google Search Console to set your preferred domain and specify to crawl other URL parameters differently. This is known as parameter handling. You may need to set up your preferred domain, parameter handling, or both, depending upon what's causing your duplicate content problems. However, it's important to do the same for other search engine webmaster tools, as well.

You can prevent further duplicate content problems by keeping internal links consistent within your website, ensuring your webmaster adds the link back to the original page for syndicated content and adding a self-referential rel-canonical link to your web pages to prevent others from attempting to steal your content for SEO purposes.

The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion

While you may be able to attempt some basic SEO practices for your website on your own, it can be difficult to ensure all your bases are covered. Our wheelhouse at Virtual Stacks Systems includes SEO services and all the elements that integrate to ensure seamless optimization - such as website design and website redesign , social media marketing and PPC services . to learn more and get started!

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