What is duplicate content?

The only definition that really matters is the simple one that Google provides:

Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.

Why does it matter?

When multiple pieces of identical content appear throughout the Internet, the search engines are unsure which version is the original version. Search engines try to provide the best experience while searching, so they will rarely show multiple sites with identical content in the results. Additionally, it can effect your page rank because search engines don’t know whether to direct the link metrics (trust, authority, anchor text, link juice, etc.) to one page, or keep it separated between multiple versions.

When duplicate content is present, site owners suffer rankings and traffic losses, and search engines provide less relevant results.

How to avoid duplicate content on your site

Here are 3 ways duplicate content commonly occurs:

Multiple sites for 1 company

A company may want multiple different websites if they have more than one location or if they provide several services that have strong individual identities. Multiple websites can be beneficial, but it is imperative that each website be unique. As Google’s definition states, duplicate content applies across domains. So…

Do not launch a second site that is a duplicate of your original site under a different URL!

Product descriptions

What if your online store has hundreds of products to set up? Using the brand and products descriptions provided by the manufacturer seems like a quick and easy solution…which is why many retailers do it. But just think of how many times the content would be duplicated on your own site, let alone the countless other sites it’s already been duplicated on. This is a sure way to hurt your search rankings. You will want to identify products with the name and item code exactly as it is provided by the manufacturer, so your customers can find what they’re looking for. Beyond that, it’s best to take the time to describe brands and products in your own words, using the manufacturer description only as a guide.  So…

Do not copy manufacturer descriptions for brands or products!


Everyone wants a blog, and for good reason. A blog is the perfect way to continuously add fresh new content to your site, something Google loves. However, the content can’t just be new to your site, it has to be new and unique to the internet in general. If you don’t have the skill or time to write your own content and don’t have the budget to hire a professional to do it for you, it’s better not to have a blog at all, as the duplicate content will only hurt your search rankings. Let’s not forget the most important point: publishing content that has been copied (stolen) from another source makes you guilty of copyright infringement. So…

Do not post copied content to your blog!

If you are worried that your site might contain duplicate content, make sure to thoroughly review Google’s guidelines and recommendations. For even more assurance, there are several online tools that will check your site for possible plagiarism or duplicate content. If you’d like help creating unique content for your website, Tree Ring Digital can help. Contact us or visit our site to learn more.