Duplicate content happens when the same or slightly different content (text and/or image) appears on more than one web page on the Internet. It can be internal, when it appears within one single website (different pages have the same content, or same article has several different URLs), or external, when other websites copy or steal your original content, with or without your consent.
The duplicate content can negatively affect the experience when the popular search engines’ users are looking for certain information on the Internet. They won’t be satisfied if instead of interesting articles they’ll find useful, the results are full with links to different websites but with the same or similar information. In order to provide the best possible service, the search engines are constantly working on improving their algorithms to help them better detect duplicates on the Web, and even though they won’t directly ban plagiarist websites, they’ll certainly penalize such activities by lowering their page rankings and overall website authority. Here’s how you can protect your content:
Copyright your content. One of the first steps in preventing others from stealing your website original content is letting them know that your work is under copyright protection and must be properly cited if used. You can add a simple statement on the web page footer, but it would be better if you are clearer and up front, using a disclaimer, or adding a “Protectedby …” badge, like those available on various duplicate content detection sites.
Perform internal audits. Since duplicate content can also appear within the same website, intentionally or not, a great way to make sure your website is properly optimized is to internally audit it for duplicates. It often happens that the category pages and the full article pages contain very similar, if not the same information, and this can also be true for product description pages that differ only in few product characteristics. Before you start fighting the external content scrappers, make sure your website is safe from within. Use robots.txt to manually select what pages should be indexed, and Google Webmaster Tools or Yahoo! Site Explorer to stay up-to-date with any additional problems.
Actively check and monitor for duplicates. The second your new article is published on your website, particularly if it is an authoritative website with unique and creative articles people want to read and share, plenty of other blogs and websites will try copy or rework it so they can republish it as their own original content. Because of this, it is essential for you to constantly check and monitor the popular search engines results for duplicates that may harm your website’s SEO efforts. Look up Google’s Blog or set Google Alerts for unique strings of your original text, or check and monitor for copies of your web page URLs on the Internet using some of the available tools and software like PlagSpotter or CopyScape.