One of the most common – and thankfully easiest to fix – SEO mistakes we see across the web is duplicate content. Duplicate content is literally an SEO killer. The most common place to come across this is on websites that offer similar or identical sets of products in different listings. In order to figure out how to best solve the problem, we need to fully grasp exactly what the problem is.
What is duplicate content, and why is it such a big deal?
Can duplicate content really be such an SEO killer? The short answer is yes; the long answer is yes, because when Google sends out its crawlers during a query, they won’t know which page to rank. Also, there is a chance that they may be excluded entirely from a search engine’s indices, and that is something you absolutely must avoid.
Duplicate content is simply when several of your own web pages have the same title or content, so the solution is fairly simple. Duplicate content often arises unintentionally, such as when a developer isn’t aware that a search engine sees the web pages differently than we do. What’s worse is that sometimes a search engine will split links between the duplicate pages, which means that both pages will rank much lower than if there were only one of them.
Duplicate Title Tags or Meta Descriptions
Another serious offender that repeatedly shows up at the SEO police station is the duplicate title tag. This is just as harmful to your search engine rankings. Webpages will often have the same page titles, perhaps because of auto-generation or just plain laziness. Anyone in the SEO biz knows that the title tags are one of the most important aspects of your optimization. This is because they tell the search engine which pages are and are not relevant to a query. A meta description is like an elevator pitch. You have 30 seconds to sell your idea to the head honcho while in the elevator with them. When the SERP comes up, the reader will see your meta description and you have roughly 160 characters to tell them why your website is the one they are looking for. Make sure that these are not duplicated.
How to Remedy Duplicate Content Issues
For many duplication problems, it is possible to use the good ol’ fashioned eye test. Check your web page to make sure nothing is doubled over. There are many things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, though. We recommend using a 301 redirect, which is a fairly simple way of directing all links to the correct page instead of the ones that are not relevant. You can also use webmaster tools (go to Optimization and then HTML Improvements) and you will find a duplicate title tags function. This can help uncover duplicate content that was formerly hidden to you.
Although nobody out there can actually claim to know everything about SEO, how the algorithms work, and what is or isn’t best for your web page, we can say that we know a few things that are without a doubt harmful to your on-site SEO. Duplicate content, title tags, or meta descriptions are a simple but common mistake. Don’t think that just because it’s a tiny mistake, that it isn’t harmful. Duplicate content will seriously hurt your page’s performance, and needs to be fixed ASAP. If you need help, call the SEO experts at BlueHat today.