How Duplicate Content Hurts SEO

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One crucial factor in the SEO equation is the issue of duplicate content – a topic that demands attention and understanding from anyone striving to enhance their website's visibility and ranking. Duplicate content can have a detrimental impact on SEO, and avoiding this pitfall can significantly elevate your digital presence.

Why is Duplicate Content Considered Negative SEO?

Content that is an exact or near-exact duplicate of content on other websites is harmful to your search rankings. Duplicate content is assumed to be plagiarized, whether you've copied someone else's content or they've copied yours. 

While it's okay, and sometimes even necessary, to have similar content on your own website or content that's similar to your competitors, you want to make sure that the content is different enough that Google won't flag it as duplicated content. Make sure if you're quoting an article that you're also providing the proper citations as well. 

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can be easily avoided by making sure that you are writing original content. Also, try to avoid using the same language from the sites you are getting your research or inspiration from. If you need to use an exact quote, make sure to properly cite that quote, and introduce that quote using your own words. 

If you sell products or services, make sure that you aren't using the same product descriptions as other retailers unless the product brand requires you to use something specific. However, if you want to stand out against other competitors that sell those same products or services, you want to write your descriptions in a way that will help your website rank higher than your competitors. 


How to Check for Duplicate Content

The easiest way you can check to see if there is a duplicate of your content is to search a few lines of your content with quotation marks around them. For example, if I wanted to see if someone on the internet had duplicated content from this article, I could search:

"Your website isn't ranking on search engines, and you may be wondering... What if I just make a few more websites with the same content to boost my rankings?"

When content has quotation marks around it, Google will search for an exact match of your search query. From there, you can see how many results appear with an exact match, and see who is duplicating your content. If someone has copied your content, you can take the following steps:

  1. Document everything you can about the stolen content such as the exact content that was stolen, the website it's used on, when it was published, etc.
  2. Contact the website owner and ask them politely to remove the stolen content. Give them a reasonable amount of time to get the content removed, and let them know that if it isn't removed within that amount of time, you will have to report the website.
  3. If the content doesn't get removed after step 2, then it may be time to report the page to Google. You can file a removal request which will stop it from appearing in search results.
  4. Finally, if none of the previous steps work, it may be time to get your lawyer involved for copyright infringement.

While no one wants it to come down to a legal battle, getting a lawyer involved is the best way that you can ensure that your website and business are protected. It's also important to understand that not everyone who copies your content may have malicious intent. It's possible that someone is new to the digital marketing industry and just doesn't know better. However, that isn't a good enough reason to not report stolen content.

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