By Dan Kenitz
SEO refers to search engine optimization, so usually it goes without saying that SEO work is aimed at making sure your site appears in prominent places within popular search engines. But when it comes to duplicate content, many people forget about SEO, and use the same content in several places because it's easier than writing all new copy for every page or use it to cram more keywords into a site. But that can hurt your search engine rankings.
How Duplicate Content Hurts
So, why exactly is duplicate content such a big no-no? Quite simply, it's due to quality control over at the big search engines. Their goal is to give their searchers the most relevant and focused information possible. When someone on the other end of the spectrum spams the search engines with duplicate content that's simply designed to boost rankings or make the Web site owner's job easier, search engines don't like it. In fact, they'll punish you for publishing duplicate content because they only have to assume that you're offering quality content for their users.
What is Duplicate Content?
Of course, for all of this to make sense, we'll actually have to define duplicate content. Duplicate content often occurs, when you have a cluttered Web site that posts the same information on more than one page. This is bad news, and you'll want to avoid it to maintain a clean and healthy SEO presence.
How to Fix It
So what do you do? There are a few tools to use:
- 301 redirects. Take the duplicate content off of one of your pages and replace it with a 301 redirect to the page on your site with the original content. 301 redirects help search engines figure out where they should point searchers.
- Maintain a clean linking system. If you have a blog, it's best to create a link to the effect of www.yoursite.com/blog and always link to this same address.
- Don't repeat your text by using boilerplates. It's fine to have boilerplate Web sites in order to publish sites quickly, but if you don't have different content on these boilerplates, then you're just asking to be punished by the search engines.
Once you've got a handle on how duplicate content works and how to clean it up, give your own Web site a good rundown and see if there are some places you cut out the fat. Besides, your focus should be on providing original content that entices people to link and click to your site, not to mindlessly fill in boilerplates.
About the Author
Dan Kenitz, a graduate of Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, is a former search engine optimization professional and a current freelance writer who works out of the Midwest.