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Is Duplicate Content Bad for Business?

The term ‘duplicate content’ has been littered across the internet in recent years (not to mention those rumours of penalties for websites that contain duplicate content!). For many companies that specialise in search engine optimisation (SEO), duplicate content is one of the most asked about topics by clients. But what is considered duplicate content?  

Credit: Actuate Media, 2017


What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content refers to similar website content that is considered to match too closely with other content which appears on multiple web pages. It is a widely held misconception that duplicate content is a search engine’s method of preventing plagiarism, however, it is not quite that simple… Duplicate content can exist between both your own web pages, or those of other businesses. This means that multiple pages of similar content on your own website may be flagged by search engines. In most cases, duplicate content is not produced deliberately, yet 29% of websites contain duplicate content!

Are search engine penalties for duplicate content a myth?

Turns out those rumours about penalties for duplicate content are a myth! In 2017, Google issued SEO “advice” on duplicate content in their Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Technically, Google did not ‘refer’ to duplicate content once… Instead they discussed ‘copied content’. Copied content is considered by Google to be content which is “intentionally copied” from another website and contains “low-quality techniques such as synonyms and related words” to make the content ‘unique’. In actual fact, copied content is penalised by Google, but duplicate content is not.

The Impact?

With Google, punishment for copied content can annihilate your business’s SEO strategy. If your site ascends through a Google Search ranking, your site and business will profit through traffic, leads and transformation. However, if your site falls to the descending side of a Google Search ranking, your business will generate far less traffic and in turn, leads for your business. Thus, Google’s ‘punishment’ for copied content, means that your business will be pushed towards the bottom of a Google Search ranking by their algorithm.

How can duplicate content harm your business’s website?

Even though we have established that there is no punishment specifically for duplicate content, it can nevertheless still harm your site’s execution in the following three ways:

1. Preventing your pages being positioned in the query items:

Google’s algorithm for establishing the order of query items is established by displaying the most applicable pages for the searchers’ questions first.

Google takes prompts from the pages stored in its records. Thus, even if your content is the original page, duplicate content means that your business’s page still may not be displayed first.

2. Weakening your connection profile:

Having one superior page with great content and brilliant backlinks will always be displayed higher on Google search results that duplicate content that is merely reworded and reposted.

hus, sub-par duplicate content can weaken your connection profile if similar content is displayed on more than one site.

3. Creating Perplexity with Original Ownership:

When similar content is reposted and reworded, Google has trouble establishing who the original owner of the content is.

Thus, even if you own the original content, you may not automatically be listed as the highest result on Google search.

The Top 4 causes (and solutions) to duplicate content.

In research conducted by BigCommerce, it is noted that there are several reasons why duplicate content can appear, and surprisingly enough, it is usually done by accident!

1. Varieties in the URL:

Tragically, it is a commonly held misconception that web pages are separate documents that are filed away on a web server. However, this is simply not true, as content that is similar can be accessed using various URLs.

For example, advertisers tend to jump at the chance of adding URLs that contain parameters which enable them to track inbound movements through Google Analytics. However, Google considers this totally new URL to contain the exact same content as the original!

Although most advertisers trust that UTM parameters don’t cause these major SEO issues, utilising a standard tag in the web page code can indicate that the URL is the ‘favoured rendition’ of the page.

2. Spaces with and without ‘www’:

Browsers today show little regard to whether or not the sites URL is (or is not) composed of “www”.

The issue arises however when both a www and non-www address appears as two variants of a similar page.

The ideal approach to minimise this issue is to utilise a rel=canonical tag in the code, which discloses to Google which page is the best form for checking.

3. Session IDs:

When a client shops on your site, they have the ability to store items in their carts while they pursue different pages.

Such data is referred to as session ID, which is a piece of coding that is remarkable to each individual client.

Occasionally, this code can be implanted into your site’s URL structure, which basically gives each individual client their own URL for your site.

Whilst this provides your customers with easy access, it also means that every different URL will be identifies by web crawlers as duplicate content.

To prevent this, most web-based business stages offer an alternative to expel session ID’s in site URL, which can be changed in your website’s settings.

4. Pagination:

If you paginate longer posts inside your site, or even make remark pages, they can end up creating duplicate pages on your site.

This issue can be easily prevented, as a majority of CMS frameworks offer an alternative in their settings, which can incapacitate this component which will not only just remove the issue, but also prevent it from occurring again in the future.


Although duplicate content is not considered in Google algorithm to be as bad as copied content, duplicate content can nevertheless hurt your business’s website. It stands to reason that most instances of duplicate content are not deliberate and rather are the result of accidental inclusions on most web pages. Not only can duplicate content have the ability to hurt your site through Google’s search rankings, it can also negatively affect customer perception of your business through poor discovery capacity and create difficulties in use. However, once the sources are identified, simple solutions to the issue of duplicate content can often be created.  

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