Duplicate content is any content that appears in more than one location on the Internet. Web content that is constantly repeated can be harmful to a website (and, in turn, its owner) for a variety of reasons. The main reason that duplicate content can be troublesome, lies in the fact that search engines cannot recognize which site is more relevant to a user searching for the duplicated information. There’s also the risk of search engines like Google penalizing a site with duplicate content, as this suggests that the text may have been plagiarized. It doesn’t matter whether the duplicator has permission and has cited that the content is not original; duplicate content will almost always hurt a website’s search engine rankings.
Of course, sharing content is not necessarily a bad thing when you’re simply displaying the information and giving proper credit to the original web page and its author. However, if you’re trying to manipulate search engines so that they’ll recognize your page over the original, then you’ve got a problem. That’s when Google starts to consider duplicate content truly “bad,” and – while there’s no such thing as an explicit “duplicate content penalty” – that’s when it can start to hurt your website.
When too many sites include the same content, search engines begin to archive the extra pages and simply won’t display them in their results. Since many people don’t bother to click the link that displays these archived pages, they’re often overlooked entirely — and traffic suffers as a result.
At the end of the day, every web developer wants the same thing: to generate lots of traffic (which generally translates into lots of revenue). However, there are right ways and wrong ways to make this happen, and one of the most common mistakes is to use duplicate content with deceptive intent. For example, if you have a web page advertising a product and find another page with a blog post describing it, you might decide to reuse said article on your own page. Seeing that the other website is already generating a nice bit of traffic, you might think using this content will even generate more traffic on your own page. Unfortunately, you would be dead wrong, and doing so could cause have a number of negative consequences.
A web page with duplicate content is at risk of being left out of search engine results entirely, and the entire website’s credibility will be called into question. When visitors see that the site is missing from Google and its counterparts, they may ultimately conclude that your content can’t be trusted altogether.
Fortunately, the solution is simple: Stick to original content. Write your own blog posts, reviews, and articles. While you can republish content from other pages, be sure to do so sparingly and include a link or citation whenever possible. There are also tags you can use in order to prevent search engines from archiving a page, an example being “rel=canonical”. If you have more than one page on the same subject, it’s probably best to consolidate your pages into one and avoid the issue on your own site.