If you have a website that is more than a few years old, you have probably made some changes and improvements to it. You might have added new pages, or even copied over some old pages and revised them to update your site.
However, one big problem with doing these kinds of updates is that Google starts to get confused about your site.
The Google crawlers will sometimes find an old version of a page and a newer one that has almost the same content. The crawler reads both web pages and notices that they are saying the same thing, but isn’t sure which is more relevant.
The duplicate content dilemma
In SEO agencies, this problem is known as ‘duplicate content’. It’s when a search crawler starts to get confused because there are multiple versions of a page.
The goal of Google’s search algorithm is to match search results that are relevant and valuable to those searching. So if two pages both look relevant, how does it know which is most relevant?
In short, it doesn’t, so it starts to devalue both pages. This is bad for your ranking in the search engines, and confusing for your site visitors.
How do you know if you have duplicate content on your site?
If you want to find out the easy way, you can use a free tool such as Siteliner to test the volume of duplicate content. All web pages are likely to have some content that is exactly the same, but if you aim for around 10% or less (meaning you have 90% original), this is a good a good start.
What can you do to reduce duplicate content?
Luckily, there are very easy ways to reduce the issue of duplicate content on your website. Based on our experience as an Orange County SEO Agency, we have worked with a lot of businesses who have this issue. Here are three ways to overcome duplicate content issues on your website.
1) Rewrite the pages to be more unique
The simplest way to ensure you aren’t suffering from duplicate content issues is to simply rewrite one of the pages. Take some time and review the copy (ie. the words) and see how you can make it more unique. Maybe you can be more specific or use a slightly different angle. Maybe you can add more detail to one page. Whatever you can do to differentiate the two pages, this will help.
2) Use 301 Redirects
Another method of reducing confusion for both visitors and search engines is to simply create a redirect. This is known as a 301 in the SEO Agency world, but don’t be confused by the strange name. A 301 tells the search engine to stop indexing a certain page, and instead go directly to another webpage which is about the same subject. In this way, the new page gains a lot of the authority from the older page. And at the same time, you remove the issue of an older page lowering the relevance of the newer one.
3) Add canonical tags
Without getting too technical, the final way is to add a piece of code into your webpage that tells the search engine crawlers to value one page as the authority. This is usually done by a website developer, but it can also be done if you can access your website’s code. Here is a great guide by Moz to adding Canonical tags to a webpage.
These three ideas are simple ways to reduce the duplicate content problem that a lot of websites have. It can take less than a few hours to fix, but it can make a huge impact on how your site is indexed and ranked by Google.
Brandastic is an Orange County SEO agency helping our clients to increase their Google rankings, improve keywords, and grow organic traffic. Learn more about our SEO services today.