Duplicate content is a major issue on the Internet today, a problem most websites are faced with. Every time the same or very similar content appears on more than one place (web page, URL) on the Internet, on the same or on different website, a duplicate is being created. These duplicates ruin the user experience when searching the Web for information. When looking up certain keywords, the users are only interested in relevant and useful links – they don’t want to see a list of websites with the same text reappearing over and over. Since the search engines are there to provide the best service for their users, it’s logical that the duplicate content issue will negatively affect the website SEO.
One of the most common ways duplicate content is being created on the Internet is by copying and pasting other websites original content, or taking parts of several different texts and slightly reworking them to be presented as unique and original. If you submit your own article on several different websites, you’ll also create duplicates. In addition to this, duplicate content can also result from applying poor web development techniques, developing bad link structure, and making bad SEO decisions.
As mentioned before, the search engines want to deliver quality results to their users, and they want to do that fast so their users will be more satisfied. But due to the complexity of the used algorithms, crawling, analyzing and indexing all those pages takes time and valuable resources, and when you add the duplicates it becomes very clear why Google and other popular search engines have to transfer the pressure on the webmasters and SEOs so that they’ll be motivated to eliminate their duplicate pages.
So how does duplicate content affect SEO?
Google and other search engines probably won’t ban your website just because of few duplicates, but there are other ways the duplicate content issue will affect your website SEO. When the search engines identify duplicates, they’ll only list the original page in their search results, and the decision which content is the original will depend on the age of the page, the PageRank, the website authority, the number of incoming links, etc. This means that your website won’t be listed in their results if you are publishing copy-pasted texts, and since the purpose of SEO is getting listed and ranked higher in the result pages, the negative effect of the duplicate content on SEO is more than obvious.
The duplicates also negatively influence the search engine PageRank distribution, because lots of the links are getting diffused. Lower page rank means lower website ranking and bad SEO. In addition to this, the search engines find and index only a particular number of pages from every website, depending on the authority of the website, and if there are lots of duplicates the additional pages you publish on your website will be indexed much slower.
The duplicate content has the same negative effects even on commercial websites SEO. They often have several different pages for the same products, differing only by a certain characteristic, and if the descriptions are exactly the same or just slightly different on all the product pages, they are creating duplicates that will also hurt their SEO efforts.