How Duplicate Content Affects SEO and Google Rankings

July 24, 2018 6 min read

How Duplicate Content Affects SEO and Google Rankings 3

How Duplicate Content Affects SEO and Google Rankings

In the world of Internet content, you often find people covering the same topic repeatedly. In addition, with the billions of articles floating around the World Wide Web, it is likely that some articles or content is going to be duplicated. The reasons for this are varied perhaps both writers used the same source or text, perhaps one copied the other, perhaps even it the same article posted to different sites.

Whatever the reason, duplicate content has an impact on how your webpage and website is ranked using the Google algorithm.

How Duplicate Content Affects SEO and Google Rankings 4

What is Duplicate Content and What is Not Duplicate Content

Simply put content is a set of articles or content, that is two or more, that if analyzed seem very similar if not exactly same. Now in this context, it does not refer to content that you are citing is from another source. Duplicate Content is content that is presented as being original but down the line, it is found to be very similar to other content.

Therefore, if you refer to an article prepared by someone else, quote the reference, and refer traffic to that content, then that is original content.

If you lift someone else’s content that had initially appeared on the Web and had been indexed, then you are dealing with duplicate content.

In addition, if you write original content and post it to one website, then later on, put the same content on another website, despite the fact that you are the original author of both articles, if you do not refer to the original site, then you are having duplicate content.

Finally, if you borrow different sections of different articles from previously web-published articles, and you copy them verbatim, then you will have duplicate content too.

So duplicate content can be fully plagiarised articles, partially plagiarised articles or your original content but duplicated to other websites by yourself without reference to the original articles or author.

Why Do We Have Duplicate Content

If you are familiar with the world of writing, copying someone else, content verbatim without quoting the original source is called plagiarism. Well duplicate content is almost similar. Why does it happen? Well content in form of articles is a factor in the ranking of a website. That means the more articles and content a website has, the higher in ranking it is likely to be because it carries content that may be useful to web users.

So let us suppose that your website is an e-commerce shop dealing with say computer hardware. One great way of attracting organic traffic to your website is to host a wide range of computer hardware related articles. Chances are that Google Analytics does the ranking, in the area of computer hardware, related searches your website will rank higher with the articles than if it did not have these articles. So when someone searches for computer hardware whether they are shopping for hardware or not, your website will appear in their searches and so that way you get traffic to your website, which is the first step of converting sales.

If you think about it though, articles on Computer Hardware are likely to have similar content because we are talking a specific topic and types of computer hardware are not limitless, so chances are if you write about Computer RAM for example there are going to thousands or similarly themed articles out there. The temptation therefore is to check one or more of those articles and transfer them to your articles. This is the genesis of duplicate content. The situation is further complicated where website owners hire content writers, especially content writing farms that duplicate the same content over hundreds of websites. Simply put, duplicate content, can occur due to deliberate or accidental plagiarism or by the author duplicating

How Does Duplicate Affect Your SEO Ranking

Before we delve into this topic, it is important to understand the basis for Google Algorithms ranking WebPages. Overall Google Algorithms reward pages that improve the web user’s experience. This includes web pages providing what they claim they can provide in terms of content, the language they use on their websites, avoid disruption of the user’s experience for instance by having a lot of pop ups or dirty links.

So where does Duplicate Content sit in all this? First, we have to appreciate that it is almost impossible to avoid duplicate content in the literal sense. For example, if you are writing about Linux commands, you are likely to quote for the Linux Man Pages largely because the Man pages are the most authoritative guide to commands for Linux. Therefore, as much as you may want to be original, it will be impossible to avoid referring to Man Pages. Well, Google Algorithms, from what we have seen, seem to recognize this.

In our opinion, it appears where the Google Algorithms come in is where content is duplicated without reference to the original publishing. In addition, the way it does this is that, for any duplicate content, the original sources are ranked higher than the duplicate content.

What’s more, if you have multiple duplicate sources without citation, all the original content will rank higher than your page and your website.

So How Do We Avoid Duplicate Content

As we have said before, avoiding duplicate content may be a tall task but generally, this few steps may help you in avoiding this problem.

Establish Source of Your Content

While we may all want to think we are having original content, it is often sensible to check existing knowledge base for information we are putting down. For example if you are writing about  Shoes and Shoe Selection, a simple search on the web will give you other articles written on the topic and you may then opt to cite these sources or write in a manner different from them. Where textbooks and other website are involved, a quick mention and link or proper APA Citation may be good enough, although in our experience, it may disrupt the reading experience.

Use Online Resources to Check Duplicity

Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of resources, which can help you check for duplicate content. Though originally used for Academic purposes, services like Grammarly help to check how much different your articles are from others and go as far as giving you the other similar articles.

Change Your Writing Style

If you write articles in a more conversation style, then you are likely to avoid duplicate content. We suggest that you write the way you would talk to someone about the topic at hand. This not only avoids duplicate content but it also help improve your ranking.

Cover Topics In Which You Are An Authority

One reason why people end up with Duplicate Content is writing about topics that they hardly know anything so in order to ensure the content is up to standard they end up “borrowing” other articles. For instance if you area is fashion, it may be very hard to write about Crypto currencies as compared to fashion and what’s more, your personal knowledge of fashion may be in itself Unique Content.

Citing Your Sources

This sounds like duplication but referring to the original source of the information or articles is a great way of avoiding duplicate content. Including the links goes a long way in avoiding your content appearing as duplicated. The only advice here is that before using a source and citing it, it may be necessary to check for any license issues or get permission to do so. Towards this end, we suggest that if you decide to go down that route establish that the person or persons or entities you are getting permission from are the original owners of the content.

Improve Management of Content Farms

It has been established that content farms are one big reason why duplicate content is found around the Internet. There is debate about the use of Content Farms or large pool of writers, but from where we sit, we find that these Content Farms on their own are not bad and actually help to generate content faster while providing employment. What we strongly recommend is the manner of managing your relationship to avoid duplicate content ending up on your website. If your do go down that line, we would suggest double checking their content with the web service and also asking them to do the same to ensure that no duplicate content comes through.


For the closing, we have seen what constitutes duplicate content and what it is not. We have also seen how duplicate content affects your SEO ranking. We have also covered some few tips that can help you to avoid duplicate content that include checking for originality via web services, establishing the sources of your information,  writing in a more conversational manner, citing, the sources and writing in areas that you are familiar or are an authority in and improving the management of content farms.

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