Updated on October 19, 2019
I first published the article below on May 11, 2010. Over 9 years ago. Most of what I said then, especially the topic, remain the same. However, some things have since changed. I’m going to write my comments about the sections that have changed below the appropriate paragraph in blue so you can see what has changed.
Google rankings of many websites suffer greatly because of a phenomenon called “duplicate content.” One of our clients, cryoserver.com was penalized (red-flagged) for this particular reason prior to signing up with us. The site was ranked on page 13 of Google SERP’s for one of their main keywords.
Duplicate content refers to “substantive blocks of content” that match or are similar to “content within or across domains”, according to Google webmaster central. Google simply reduces the ranking of both pages/websites if it notices similar content being posted.
Today, in most cases, Google recognizes which content is the original and only reduces the rankings of the copied version. Now, this is not always true. So, if you see your site’s content has been copied, it’s best if you rewrite your site’s content.
Here are some examples of duplicate content and tips on how to resolve them:
Having mirrored sites refers to the same website being hosted on two or more different domains. This was basically what cryoserver.com had done. They had their site hosted on cryoserver.com as well as forensiccs.com.
Use a domain-level redirect from one domain to the other to resolve the mirrored sites issue. Also, use 301 redirects for any linked-to web pages within the redirected domain.
We asked cryoserver.com to redirect the mirrored domain to the main one. After only one week, Google removed the red-flag and now their site ranks on the 3rd page (some SEO work is still needed to get them to the first page).
The same for-sale items on e-commerce Web sites
This is very common when it comes to e-commerce sites. Many URL’s are dynamically created and linked to from the home-page or other pages. Or simply, one product is placed within different categories. To resolve this issue, you should avoid dynamically building your pages and use a different description even for the same products if they’re placed on different categories (having different URLs).
Copied text to be placed on competitors websites
If someone copies your text and places it on their site, your site could be penalized (flagged) by Google spiders for having duplicate content. This doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it reduces your site’s rank on Google dramatically. To resolve this issue, you should contact the site that copied your text and ask them (by using all means) to remove the stolen text from their site.
If they don’t comply, you should just rewrite your own content (painful, but it’s easier and less expensive than hacking the other site and removing your text).
Print-only versions of webpages
Avoid print-versions if at all possible. If you cannot, use a “no-follow” tag wherever you link to a print-version copy of your webpages.
This issue is mute as sites don’t have print versions anymore.
Web pages that generate a mobile-friendly version
Similar to above, use “no-index” tags so Google spiders don’t index these pages.
If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We will respond to all questions in a timely manner.