Can Duplicate Content Harm Your SEO?

SEO is important. When you rely on it to help market your dental practice and increase its success, you might start to feel a little protective. You want to avoid anything that can harm your SEO and jeopardize the gains your practice has made in Google Search. Duplicate content is often considered a threat to SEO, but just how much of a threat is it, really? We’ll explore that question below, but first, let’s define what duplicate content actually is.

What is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content is any content that exists in more than one place (and thus under more than one web address) online, with the duplicate(s) being either completely identical to the original content, or, in Google’s terms, “appreciably similar.”

Duplicate content can be external, such as content you produce for your social media channels or content that’s plagiarized by another website, or internal content, which exists on your website and gets knowingly or unknowingly duplicated to other pages on the site.

How Duplicate Content Can Affect Your Website

Duplicate content is not officially a penalty, but it can make search engines struggle to figure out which version of the content is the most relevant to the corresponding search query.

So unless you’re duplicating content to manipulate your rankings and deceive people, you shouldn’t have to worry about your website’s search rankings being affected.

Internal duplicate content is what you really should look out for, however, because it has a greater impact on how your website appears in search results. Duplicate content can make Google link to the wrong page for a specific keyword search, and show that page in the search results instead of the original page.

What’s the Problem with Internal Duplicate Content?

Here are the 3 main issues that can result from having internal duplicate content:

  • Search engines won’t know which version of your content they should include or exclude from their indices
  • They also won’t know whether to direct trust, authority, anchor text, link equity, etc. to one page, or keep it separated among however many duplicates there are
  • Search engines won’t know which version of your content to rank for query results*

*This will dilute the duplicate pages’ visibility, along with your links, because other websites will need to choose between the duplicate pages to select the one that they need to link to. This can result in all your inbound links pointing to multiple pieces of content instead of just one.

What Causes Duplicate Content?

Often, duplicate content isn’t created intentionally. It can be generated by:

  • Having printer-only versions of web pages
  • Having items in an online store linked by multiple URLs
  • Website mismanagement, such as having multiple versions of a website
  • Unnecessary repetition of boilerplate text throughout your website

Tips for Preventing Duplicate Content

If you’re concerned about duplicate content on your website or elsewhere online, never fear. There are lots of ways to prevent this issue and avoid any harm to your SEO, including:

301 Redirects

301 redirects guide users from a duplicate page to the original, correct page. This stops all the duplicates from competing with each other (and the original page) to rank well, and increases the relevancy and authority of the original page.

Avoiding Placeholder Content

Placeholder content is sometimes necessary for a website in progress. But to avoid creating duplicate content, you should block any pages using placeholder text to prevent Google from indexing them.

Understand Your Content Management System (CMS)

For example, if your website is built in WordPress and you regularly publish blog articles, make sure your blog entries aren’t popping up in multiple places throughout your website.

Avoid Having Pages with Similar Content

Having two or more pages that touch on similar topics can create some confusion for search engines. Review your pages and consider expanding or condensing the content accordingly to ensure that each page is sufficiently unique.

Is It Ever Okay to Have Duplicate Content?

Digital marketing means having to share content across multiple channels. You need to communicate with your established and potential new patients to stay relevant and grow your practice.

Having duplicate content on social media, for example, should not harm your SEO. However, you should make an effort to make each social media post as unique as possible. Evergreen content especially benefits from routine revisions, so it always sounds fresh. Go beyond minor changes, which may not be enough to differentiate the content from previous posts.

Why Work with Marketing Experts?

Well, why not? At InTouch, we can help you manage your website and monitor your marketing results in real time. You don’t have to do it all yourself—our full-service agency can take care of all the nuts and bolts of your website and web presence. You don’t have the time to go digging around looking for duplicate content and other potential hazards to your SEO—and you shouldn’t have to. Get InTouch by calling (877) 493-9003 today so we can help you get started!