Websites are growing constantly. Whether it is an ecommerce portal or a basic corporate website, people are adding, changing or deleting features constantly. In essence, over time, many websites reach a state where multiple URLs return the same contents. Having duplicate content on your own website is generally not a problematic issue. However, it often impedes the process of search engine optimization by making it harder for search engines to crawl and index the content. Also, aspects such as PageRank that are affected by incoming links can get diffused across pages that might or might not be duplicates.
There are a few simple ways of dealing with the issue of duplicate content.
- The first thing you need to do is recognize duplicate content on your website. Use a ‘site:query’ in Google to search for a unique text snippet from one of your web pages and limiting the results to pages from your own website. Multiple results for the same content will clearly earmark the duplication, which you can trace back and rectify.
- It is very important to determine your preferred URL structure for every corresponding piece of content. And, once you’ve chosen your preferred URLs, make sure to use them in all possible locations within your website (including in the Sitemap). This will help in identifying duplicity as and when it arises.
- If possible, redirect duplicate URLs to your preferred URLs by using a 301 response code. This will ensure users and search engines find your preferred URLs in case they happen to visit duplicate ones.
- The URL parameter handling tool in Google Webmaster Tools is an effective solution to this problem. If your site’s duplicate content comes from URLs with query parameters, it will help you notify search engine crawlers of important and irrelevant parameters within your URLs.