Understanding Duplicate Content In SEO

6 mins read -
June 23, 2021

Your teachers in school tell you that plagiarism is wrong and is a sanctionable offence. The same principle applies with web content – only your website traffic is ultimately affected, even when you’re doing the plagiarism.

But wouldn’t it be so much easier to write an article, copy-paste it onto other URLs, and reap the benefits? It does make sense to assume that a potential client will view the more submissions you have, the more likely your content.

Although it’s much easier to simply copy and paste web content onto ten different websites in the hopes of gaining a click, duplicate content actually does more harm than good.

In this article, you will be learning about how duplicate content in SEO works, its benefits, the adverse effects, and how to avoid doing so. There is more to it than meets the eye when it comes to web content, and the same goes when duplicate content is in question.

Interested? Keep reading to learn more!

Is your website struggling with producing original content? Contact us for more information about how you can push out unique content on the web.



Duplicate content is any type of text or content that appears on a Google search engine or anywhere on the internet in more than one place.

So if you have two different unique website addresses (URL) with the exact same content on them, you have got yourself an example of duplicate content.

While Google doesn’t necessarily penalise it in the ways of the law, copy and pasting content onto various web pages, or duplicate content isn’t the best when it comes to search engine rankings. When there are similar pieces of content, which Google describes as “appreciably similar,” search engines have a challenging time deciding which content to push to the top of the results page.



You might be thinking, it takes more effort to write new articles with the same content than it is to duplicate the content, right?

The answer is complicated: yes in the short run and no in the long run.

Let us tell you why.



Here are some reasons why duplicate content is not the best practice for SEO and why it should be avoided at all costs.

Search engines

  • Search engines don’t know which version of the content to include or exclude from the pile to reflect in the search results.
  • Search engines don’t know if they should direct the link metrics, such as trust, authority, anchor text, and link equity, to one page or keep them separated.
  • The ranking for search results is now skewed, leaving the search engine dazed and confused.

Ultimately, if the search engine doesn’t know which content to push out, there is a risk of them overlooking the content instead.

For site owners

When it comes to duplicate content, site owners risk low rankings and traffic losses. There are two main problems with duplicating content:

  1. Search engines are designed and coded to provide the best search experience for a user, so they keep coming back for more. Search engines will do their best to show a variety of content in the hopes of getting the user to click on one of the entries after a single search. So, search engines decide on the best content suited to how a user asking their query, making them show only the best result. Duplicating content leads to diluting the visibility of each copy.
  2. Link equity or link juice, which is a search engine ranking factor, is also diluted because other websites have to select one of the duplicates as well. So instead of having all links pointing to one copy of content, they are linked to multiple pieces, resulting in lower search visibility.



Are you still confused about how duplicate content can negatively affect SEO?  Let’s put it this way:

In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort decides to split his soul into seven parts, which he called Horcruxes, as he thought it would make him invincible. Although it made him harder to kill, it ultimately became his weakness as Harry and his team were able to hunt his Horcruxes down, piece by piece to end his terrible reign.

This analogy works well for duplicate content because it works the same way – spreading the same content across multiple websites makes the text weaker.



In most cases, website owners don’t intend on creating duplicate content. But there are cases where this is true; in fact, 29% of web content are actually duplicates!

Although writers and SEO experts might think of it as a cheeky way of getting more content out on the world wide web, as we have said above, it does more harm than good.

Here are cases where you can watch out for duplicated content in order to avoid it: 

URL variations

URL parameters like click tracking and analytics can create unexpected duplicate content. This isn’t because of parameters per se, but the order these parameters appear on a URL. 

HTTP vs HTTPS or WWW vs non-WWW 

Some websites have separate versions. For example, if “www.webste.com” and “site.com” are the same websites, and the same content is available on both variations, duplicate content exists. It’s like self-sabotage in a way. 

Copied content

Scrapers are slimy individuals intentionally taking your content and republishing them on another website, most often their own, as a shortcut to get the text for cheap (in this case, completely free).

Besides not being able to write unique content, e-commerce websites also run into the issue of duplicate content.

Since there are websites that sell similar and exactly the same items, every re-seller uses the exact text that the manufacturer used to describe their listings. So, identical content ends up on multiple websites all at once.



If remained unfixed, duplicate content can be detrimental for a website that wants to build organic traffic.

How does one go about fixing the issue? 

Thankfully, there are multiple ways to fix duplicate content,it  and it becomes more accessible with the help of a professional.

When you find duplicated content, it should be canonicalised for Google’s search engine. There are five methods to accomplish this: 

1: 301 redirect

The best way to solve duplicate content is to set up a 301 redirect from the copy page to the original website. When you have multiple inbound links leading to the same website, in this case, your original page, it creates a positive impact on the original page. Ultimately, this results in high rankings for the page. 

2: Rel=”canonical” 

If the redirect isn’t enough, another option is to use the rel=canonical attribute.

This means the search engine will be informed that a particular page is merely a copy, and therefore the ranking of the page should be lower. 

3: Exame content and tags

Web content usually repeats certain words or phrases, especially if they’re keywords. Although it’s okay to have phrase repetitions, anything more than that will harm your page.

So be sure to check, double-check, and triple-check your own website for duplicates of the same paragraph or chunk of text to avoid running into duplicate content problems.  

4: Apply noindex

Another way to solve duplicate content is through the noindex tag.

This is a type of HTML tag that allows any search engine and its web crawlers to “crawl” duplicated content. So the copies won’t show up as a search engine result. Instead, only the original copy of the content will be seen. 

5: Continuously check for duplicated content

Since you never know who has used your content, it would be best to check for copies every now and then. If you do discover that someone has plagiarised or lifted your website content, give Google a shout to let them know.

In this way, you are assured that you won’t be accused of stealing content!



Besides being sure about keeping your content fresh and unique, there is a sure-fire way to keep duplicate content out of your sights forever.


Through SEO professionals who have decades of experience in the field! With professional assistance, you can effectively eliminate existing duplicate content on your website or those that are on other websites.

More than that, seeking the expertise of an SEO professional helps you consistently and continuously monitor for duplicate content as it happens in real time.

Smarter Media is a digital growth agency using our Smarter Approach to help your business grow digitally. Working side by side with our clients, we use our ‘Smarter Way’ Process to create a plan that delivers results and our ‘Smarter Promise’ to do what we say we will.  For a more comprehensive look at SEO, or to find out how you can achieve a better ROI with SEO & Paid Media working side by side, set an appointment with Smarter Media today!

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