In order to fully understand what Duplicate Content is and how it affects your site, you need to get inside the head of the search engine algorithms, or at least the engineers who develop the algorithms (the tool that indexes the 1 billion + sites worldwide). From this viewpoint we are able to then consider its impact on dental websites, its organic traffic and rankings.
Def: Duplicate Content is content which appears in more than one location on the internet.
This doesn’t sound so bad, and isn’t altogether a bad thing. For example you may want to share the brilliant article a colleague has provided on their website on your site and decide to create a page, attributing the work to them, but duplicating verbatim, so as to keep your visitors on your site. This is inherently a useful thing for your site and he would appreciate the exposure he would get from your visitors seeing his written work.
But. Which of these two articles should rank higher? And how does a search engine decide?
Many factors will come into play now, such as the amount of duplicate content on the site as a whole, the relative strength of the sites, and which copy was seen first. The site with the duplicated site, as a rule of thumb will;
1) Not rank for that page
2) Will lose SEO weighing of the page
3) Will register a point against the site as a reliable source of quality, unique content.
The above is a simple example, and does seem unfair, however whilst there are many ‘ethical’ reasons why duplicate content may occur there are whole masses of websites built using duplicate content found elsewhere on the web in hopes of capturing search traffic. They provide no value to the internet.
Imagine the same content across hundreds of sites and you can begin to imagine the search engines aversion. Algorithms are not great at making exceptions, so duplicate content – however it’s produced – will devalue the status of the site(s) in the eyes of the search engine.
Here are examples of the most common duplicate content scenarios, why they are an issue for search engines and your site and how to fix them.
Copied Page (s)
What: The scenario is a site owner who has found a great piece of content on a different site and wants to share it on their own site.
Why: The content will devalue to the site and will contribute to an overall domain score quality drop.
How: Adding a cross-domain canonical tag,
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.bestdentist.com/copied-article.html”/>
..to the page will indicate that the original source of the content is at a different location.
However, this will mean all link weight is passed to the original content site, which is not great. The best thing to do is avoid sharing this content in this way. Rather link to the article, or write your own great content.
Duplicate Treatment Information
What: Your dental website may have treatment pages with content that has been provided by the partner i.e Invisalign, Damon Braces etc.
Why: Whilst the content is normally of high quality and relevant to the treatment, it is distributed for us to all dental practices providing these treatments, hence it is found on hundreds of websites- something the search engines will find difficult to determine which is the best to rank and will therefore deem all of the sites ‘lesser quality’.
How: The specifications of the treatments and the details of the active ingredients etc. can remain the same, but the delivery and uniqueness of how you provide the product and treatment can be customised for your practice.
This will involve re-writing the product description. If you are serious about wanting to rank competitively for these products then this time-consuming process is worth it for the return on investment.
www. vs. Non-www and Duplicate Homepages.
What: The situation example here is where a site can be found using both the www and non-www URLS (www.bestdentist.co.uk and bestdentist.co.uk) and/or your homepage can be found on both the root level (www.bestdentist.co.uk) and the file-based URL (www.bestdentist.co.uk/index.html).
Why: Most often the search engines can figure this out, but there is evidence to show that in order to figure this out they have to spend extra time crawling, which can highlight the site as being not of good quality.
How: The very best way to fix this is to permanently 301 redirect the one URL to the other preferred URL. Choosing which version to use can depend on the link profile of each, and opting for the one with the best profile. Keeping the effectiveness of the link profile is advised by ensuring all internal links or links you create point to the correct desired URL whenever possible.