We have always been told not to use duplicate content in our website as this can create problems with the search engines. However, what is wrong with duplicate content? Why do search engines do not like duplicate content? What is Google’s stand on duplicate content?
All the search engines including Google strive to provide their users with the best results possible for their users’ search. They try to list the most appropriate pages for every given search and they also try hard to present the users with unique and distinctive pages that best suits the user search. Let us consider a hypothetical situation whereby six out of the first ten results listed display the same content, then would it not affect the user experience? Then should the search engine not try to discard the redundant content and present the users with one version that it considers the best fit for the search made?
Duplicate content not only affects the user experience but it also takes up unnecessary internet resources. There is no point in having the same information in 100s of pages. However search engines and in particular Google differentiates between duplicate content with malicious intent and duplicate content with non-malicious intent.
If Google or other search engines identify that certain content has been posted repetitively in various pages with the intention of manipulating the search results, then they have a cause for making adjustments with the indexing of such pages. Google treats such acts with no lenience. They try to do a good job in identifying the original source of the content and remove the duplicates from the listings. In certain cases, Google may even choose to remove the entire content from Google’s index. All these are done in view of guarding user experience.
Very often webmasters have this confusion with RSS and content syndication. How does Google treat the same content syndicated through RSS feeds appearing in numerous pages? Google tries to choose the version that fits best the users search and it may not necessarily be the original version. Here the site’s ranking is not affected in any way. So Google does not weigh all types of duplicate content equally and blindly.
However, it is always best to keep your web pages unique. Even if you were to post the same content in multiple pages within your website, you need to either consolidate all the pages to a single page or post unique content in every page. This will not only keep your website in good books with Google but it will also enhance the user experience. Your website users may also not like to see the same content in every page of your website. Therefore it is highly recommended to provide unique content in each page.
If you need to post the same content in multiple pages for some unavoidable reasons, you can make use of noindex meta tag to block Google from indexing the duplicate content. If you do not like to use noindex meta tag, then it is best to come with unique content for each page.