Just a few years ago, duplicate content wasn’t such an issue with Google. But gradually, the space has started to change with every new algorithm update cracking down on duplicate content harder and harder. Not only this, but human reviewers (employed by Google) were no longer impressed with duplicate content either. What it all comes down to is that, nowadays, if you have duplicate content on your site, Google will come after you and penalize you for it.

Duplicate Content and SEO vs. WordPress

When we look at it, WordPress as a platform was never optimized to prevent duplicate content. In fact, the way WordPress is constructed produces multiple duplicate content pages automatically.

For example, if you have a category labeled poker, and a tag labeled poker then the following pages are basically duplicate content in Google’s eyes:

  • yourdomain.com/category/poker
  • yourdomain.com/tag/poker

The first thing to do is therefore to either pick just one content organization (tags or categories) and not use the other one. Or you can place the noindex attribute on one of the two (or both of them).

To do the latter, you can use the WordPress SEO plugin (the section of SEO > Taxonomies), like this:

Duplicate Articles and Content Pages

Sometimes the stuff that WordPress generates itself is not the only problem on your site. Even though it might sound strange, it’s actually quite easy to make the mistake of creating some duplicate content manually.

If you’re targeting a number of similar keywords in your SEO campaign and you’re creating optimized articles for each of them then those articles can have a very strong duplicate feel to them.

For example, there might be very little point in creating individual articles for terms like:

  • {keyword} advice
  • {keyword} tips
  • {keyword} tricks

… as they will all inevitably be very similar. So if you do have content that holds some characteristics of being a duplicate, you should consider merging it with other pages into one, ultra-quality page.

Canonical Content

One of the few cases when having duplicate content on your site does make sense is when you’re split testing.

Actually, Google’s own tool – the Content Experiments section in Google Analytics – requires you to essentially create two very similar pages that you will then use for testing. No matter how you look at it, those pages are going to be duplicate content.

In short, if you are publishing duplicate content, and you’re doing it consciously, Google wants you to tell them which page is the original. Therefore, every duplicate should have the canonical attribute on it pointing to the original page.

When it comes to the how-to aspect of the process, this is something you can do inside the WordPress SEO plugin too. Just go to your duplicate content page, click the standard Edit button in WordPress and scroll down to the WordPress SEO by Yoast section. There, find the field labeled Canonical URL and put the original page’s URL there:

Taking Down Content Thieves

The last thing worth mentioning is when your content gets stolen by someone and republished on another site without your consent.

Contacting the webmaster and asking them politely to take your content down rarely works in such cases. What you should do instead is try sending a DMCA takedown notice. Here’s a detailed how-to on the topic.

What’s your experience with duplicate content? Have you ever been penalized for having it on your site?


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