How Can I Find Out If I Have Duplicate Content on my Website?

Duplicate contentOn October 31, as a Halloween treat, Google announced on their webmaster tools blog that they have launched a message alert designed to let webmasters know when a certain URL isn’t being crawled by Google due to duplicate content.

In their announcement they explain that when Google sees clusters of identical content across multiple URLs they will arbitrarily choose a canonical version of the content.

From Google: “When we discover a group of pages with duplicate content, Google uses algorithms to select one representative URL for that content. A group of pages may contain URLs from the same site or from different sites.”

It’s the responsibility of webmasters to tell Google which version of the content is canonical.

“To be transparent about cross-domain URL selection decisions, we’re launching new Webmaster Tools messages that will attempt to notify webmasters when our algorithms select an external URL instead of one from their website,” Google explains.

When Google selects a representative URL it’s called cross-domain URL selection. Here are some possible reasons why cross-domain URL selection can occur:

Canonical issues: You might have a www and non-www version of a site. Sometimes webmasters Without telling Google which version is canonical, you can take a hit in SERPS.

Regional Sites: Duplicate content can also appear if you have versions of your site in different countries or regions. Webmasters sometimes use different domains with identical or almost identical content to geotarget certain demographics.

Plagiarism: Scraper sites can often plagiarize content. Tools like Copyscape Plagiarism Detector can help you search the web for stolen content.

A Misconfigured Server: A misconfigured server can sometimes cause two domains to display the same content.

In addition to cross domain duplicate content, it’s also important to ensure that there aren’t duplicate page titles or content on a single domain. SEO automation tools can help ensure that you have not included identical pages or page titles on your domain.

Google’s duplicate content alert is good news for webmasters. Moving forward, it will help you cut down on duplicate content and make sure that the correct URL gets credited as canonical.

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About Jesse Davis

Jesse Davis is a content marketing copywriter at DemandResults. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in history. In his free time, he blogs, writes fiction, plays guitar and spends far too much time on social media sites.

9 Responses to “How Can I Find Out If I Have Duplicate Content on my Website?”

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