Duplicate Content: SEO Best Practices

SEO is all about getting your website to the top of the rankings. Few people will see your content unless it’s one of the first items to appear when users search for it. Achieving optimal rankings is a collection of actions you must take to appease Google’s algorithm.

One of the issues you must deal with is duplicate content. While avoiding duplicate content is the best policy you can follow, there are times where you’ll need to use such content. Knowing how to approach the matter is essential for improving your rankings.

What Is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content is when one website uses the same or nearly identical content to another website. Duplicate content can occur within your site as well. If you have identical text within your website, it can be flagged as duplicate content.

The Impact of Duplicate Content

When taking a math test in a class, there’s a difference between cheating and writing a formula down from memory. In the first case, you’re lifting an answer from your neighbor whereas in the second you’re relying on your preparation. The first is subject to a penalty whereas the second is rewarded.

Something similar holds with Google but it’s a little more nuanced. What counts as malicious duplicate content and what Google considers valid repetition depends on its algorithm. Let’s look at five reasons where your site might contain duplicate content.

Syndicating Content

Syndicated content means your articles are making the rounds through some high-traffic websites. The practice of syndication is popular in the news niche but can also be present in other content-rich niches.

Since your content will be shared potentially on several websites, you need to ensure that search engine crawlers understand this.

To avoid having Google punish your content, take a simple precaution that’ll safeguard your SERP status. Ask the service that will be syndicating your content to include a rel-canonical tag. The website administrator should place this in the ‘head’ element on every URL that features your content.

Country or Language-Specific Versions

Websites that include country-specific versions or different languages can run into duplicate content issues. Adding an hreflang tag to your ‘head’ section will make it clear to the Google bot that your page is dedicated to a specific language. That way, the search engine won’t end up conflating similar pages.

Printer-Ready Pages

Offering printer-ready versions of your content is something your users will find helpful. This tactic is ideal for websites where you expect users to download your content for offline use. However, when including a printer-ready version of your content, your web version is a duplicate of this page.

Avoid having Google count your pages as duplicate content by using a canonical tag.

Boilerplate Content

Boilerplate content is content that you have to place throughout your website that can’t be easily avoided. This is common on e-commerce websites where entire product categories will share common characteristics.

For example, if you have 100 products and they all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, there are a limited number of different ways you can write this without creating duplicate content. In this case, you have to try and differentiate your products to let Google’s crawler understand the circumstances.


Transferring from HTTP to HTTPS is beneficial to your SEO efforts as Google deems your site as more secure and trustworthy. However, when making this change, duplicate content can be generated without expressly creating it yourself. Setting your preferred URL in your Search Console will alleviate any confusion and let Google know which version it should examine.

Duplicate Content Review

Eliminating duplicate content issues is as simple as making tweaks that let Google know how your website is structured. If your website runs on WordPress, installing the right plugin can help you deal with duplicate content without delving into the code.

For users that will need to upload identical content, using the right tool from a reputable place like Nexcess to create a WordPress duplicate page will help you avoid getting your website penalized.

Getting Duplicate Content Right

Duplicate content should be avoided but is often necessary on websites such as e-commerce stores. Make the necessary adjustments by using the proper tags or download a WordPress plugin that will help you optimize your website for duplicate content.