Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Diagnosed with Duplicate Content: How to Cure Your SEO

by Jon Sparks

There's a lot of talk in the SEO community around the duplicate content issue, mainly because of the Google's filter that applies to webpages that have overly similar or identical content. When content gets replicated in several places on the web Google will only display the pages it considers to be the original source, which is not always the case. The algorithm is not perfect and will often give the credit to the site that has more authority and trust even though it didn't author the work. Getting your website dropped out of the main search engine index means a critical decrease in search traffic. That's why it's important to make sure you're not having any duplicate content issues.

There are two types of duplicate content external (on different domains) and internal (on different pages of the same domain). Let's see what causes each type and how you can protect yourself from it.

External Duplicate Content

While some of us will work hard writing articles and creating content that offers value, others will just go and steal someone's work without dropping a sweat and with no remorse whatsoever. There are a lot of scrapper sites out there living entirely off other people's content. The worst thing is that sometimes it's your site, not the stealing one that gets penalized.

Cure: If you see that your content was reprinted without your permission elsewhere on the web the first thing you can do is contact the webmaster of the offending website and request that they remove your content or put a link to you as the source. If you don't get a positive response you can report the website to Google under DMCA regulations.

Internal Duplicate Content

Often webmasters will accidentally create duplicate content on their websites. This is typical of big e-commerce sites with hundreds of same product descriptions on multiple pages as well as different session-specific URLs with the same content. Blog structure is also prone to create duplicate content: you can have the recent post on the home page and on the direct post URL. Duplicate content a big stick in your search engine optimization wheel but some simple SEO methods will do the trick.

Cure:

1. Rather then letting Google decide which of the pages to include in the index use robots.txt file to tell the search engine spiders not to crawl the duplicate pages. 2. Check your internal linking structure to make sure you always link to one and the same URL. 3. Specify the preferred domain in Google webmaster tools to let the spider know which way you want your site to be indexed.

Following these guidelines will help you minimize the duplicate content on your website and avoid penalties from the search engines.

About the Author

Jon Sparks is an SEO and marketing expert, author of many articles on Search Engine Optimization, link building, website promotion, SEO Software and search engine trends.