Why should you pay attention to penalties for duplicate content on your site?

Beware of penalties for duplicate content

The answer is simple: a constant presence of repeated blocks of text on the pages can lead to a rapid downgrading of the ranking.

Let’s see what are the types of repetition in which you can run, even without realizing it, and the best strategies to better manage your content.

Avoiding penalties for duplicate content

The most frequent cases of duplicate content

Penalties for duplicate content may originate from different scenarios, some of which are very common. If your site just can not increase its ranking, the answer can be in these lines!

The most frequent type concerns URL parameters, which can be indexed several times even if they address the same page (for example, http://mysite.com and http://mysite.com/index.htm).

Other reasons may be the presence of pages optimized for printing, discussion forums that create for the same content regular versions and mobile devices, pages that use session IDs each time different (such as reservations or carts for the online purchase).

Google and canonicalization

«Canonicalization»: a rather complex word to describe a very simple but essential process for a correct SEO procedure, in order to avoid penalties for duplicating content.

It is a matter of communicating to Google, when it is not possible to duplicate the content for the same structure of the site, which page to use as “canonical”, and therefore as original.

To do this simply add, in the <head> section of the pages where there is non-original content, a <link> element that contains the rel = “canonical” attribute and the reference to the original page.

Ways to avoid penalties for duplicate content

The first advice is, of course, to avoid as much as possible to voluntarily generate duplicate content, intervening on the text to personalize it and make it unique.

It is however a good rule to be consistent in the internal linking of the site: for example it is harmful to link from a part http://www.mysite.com/page/, from another http://www.mysite.com/page and from yet another http://www.mysite.com/page/index.htm. Much better to choose one of these – the most top-level possible – and refer every time only to it.

If we have made a change in the structure of your site, you must avoid that search engines continue to use the old URLs: in this case we can implement 301 redirects or permanent redirects.

Latest tips for “unique” content

When your texts are licensed to third parties and reused by them, ask them to use the “noindex” meta tag to ensure that these pages are not indexed by search engines, thus avoiding penalties for duplicate content.

Attention also to the text that is sometimes included at the bottom of all pages (copyright, rights or various information, in the jargon “boilerplate”): if it is too long, better a link to a specific page.

Finally, a good practice is to combine multiple similar pages into one, when large portions of text are resumed and duplicated each time.

Google clarifications on duplicate content

In 2016 Google stated publicly that there are no direct penalties for duplicate content but as mentioned, if you have duplicate content on your site, you pay a price in terms of positioning in search results.

Before further clarifying what explained by Google, we describe better what are the known penalties.

There are two types of penalties inflicted by Google: manual and algorithmic. The main difference between the two is that in the case of a manual penalty, you will receive a message directly in the Google Search Console. The message will contain the reason for the penalty and you can take action to find a remedy. In the case of algorithmic penalizations, you will have to understand which penalties hit you and try to find a solution, often blindly. Let’s take a look

List of some manual penalties:

  • Hidden or subtle redirects
  • Hidden images
  • Hacked sites
  • Hidden texts or abuse of keywords
  • Spam
  • Low value content
  • Miscellaneous abuse through links (buy or sell links)

List of some algorithmic penalties:

  • Changes introduced by Panda
  • Changes introduced by Penguin
  • Sites must be compatible with mobile devices

Basically, the duplicate content will not let you receive a direct penalty from Google but will prevent you from getting a good ranking in the search results. So even if Google does not “wipe” you, this does not mean that you do not have to remove or edit the duplicate content.

Conclusion

With these tips you will have no problem avoiding duplicate content for your site. And what do you think? Do you have any doubts or other strategies to suggest? Report it in the comments and share your experience with us.