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SEO 21 min read

How To Identify And Fix Duplicate Content Issues With SEO Tools

How to Identify and Fix Duplicate Content Issues

Blog Editor at Serpstat
Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is one of the most effective ways to draw traffic to a website. 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, meaning you would do well to rank for specific search keywords.

If you’ve had problems getting your site to rank for a particular keyword, it might be because search bots detect duplicate content, causing you to rank lower on search engines like Google. In this article, you’ll learn how to fix these issues.

What is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content is content that appears two or more times on the internet. That place is what you call a unique website address or URL. When a piece of content appears twice on different web addresses, you have duplicate content.

When you have duplicate content on your website, you don’t get penalized for it. But it does confuse the part of a search engine’s crawling mechanisms. That’s because they see two pieces of content that are exactly alike and can’t decide which one to rank for a particular keyword.

As a result, you nor the duplicate website don’t get the count on that piece of content. This doesn’t only occur with websites where strings of phrases might be similar. It also occurs when content is “appreciably similar,” as Google would call it. In cases like this, the content sounds much alike except for a few synonyms here and there. These occasions can still confuse crawl bots and cause your site to rank lower for specific strategic keywords.

So Why Does Ranking Lower Matter?

For those who don’t have an understanding of SEO, it’s essential to know why ranking for keywords is a big deal. People often search for content based on search queries. These queries have keywords that Google then detects and uses to determine what results they show you.

When you strategize your content to hit specific keywords, you’ll end up higher on search results, getting you more eyeballs and clicks to your page. Naturally, people will click on the highest results in search. So the higher you go, the more visitors your website, blogs, and other content pieces will get.

Duplicate content prevents this from happening. In effect, that lowers the number of organic visitors you get through search engines. About 93% of all search traffic comes via a search engine, meaning you lose a lot of potential by ranking lower for keywords.

You can track your website's positions in search results via Serpstat Rank Tracker, learn more about it in the following article:

Serpstat Rank Tracker: A Complete Guide

What Causes Duplicate Content?

There are many SEO tools to help you deal with duplicate content. But before we dive into any SEO tools list, you need to understand what causes duplicate content. Here are some common reasons why your content might have a duplicate.

Using Article IDs as Identifiers

Most times, website owners and businesses use a content management solution to power up a website. In that database, you could have one article, but the software allows for that article to appear through several URLs. This happens when a developer uses the article’s ID as an identifier within that database and not the URL itself.

A search engine, however, uses a URL as a unique identifier for online content. So developers need to start matching identifiers that search engines use instead of what makes sense development-wise.

Session IDs

When people visit your website, you get what web professionals call a “session.” This is a brief history of what the website visitor did on your site, including what pages they visited, what links they clicked, how long they stayed, and so on.

Each session gets a unique ID called the Session ID. That content needs to be stored somewhere. Some systems might add the Session ID to the URL, giving each session ID the same content as the rest of your sessions. That results in duplicate content that confuses indexing bots and causes your page not to rank or lose ranking.

Tracking Parameters

Website moderators and admins like tracking and sorting parameters to count and track link visits. One example would be if you wanted to track the traffic coming from an advertiser and put a code like “/?source=advertiser-name” at the end of your URL. These trackers make it hard for your page to rank as well.

The same goes for all tracking parameters you might use on your website. Those trackers cause multiple URLs for the same content, affecting your ranking on search engines.

Scrapers and Content Syndication

There are instances where other websites might be using your content without your consent. In these cases, they might miss linking an anchor text or quote to your original article. This is a term known as scraping or content syndication.

This problem usually occurs when your blog post or website starts getting popular. In cases like these, you need to ensure that scrapers are either linking back to you or restructuring the content instead of just copy-pasting them to your site. However, these two things are very often hard to control.

Comment Pagination

As your website builds up and you get more comments, you might be tempted to add pagination to your comments, so they don’t build up the scroll navigation on your pages. This, however, creates multiple URLs, resulting in multiple versions of your content in the eyes of a search engine.

Printer-friendly pages

In some cases where content management systems create printer-friendly pages of your pages, Google or other search engines might spot those print-friendly replicates and count them as duplicates. This also happens when you don’t specifically instruct your page to block page crawlers on your printer-centric pages.

WWW vs. non-WWW

Some sites might allow visitors to access with or without a www on the URL. For instance, you might have www.golfclubs.com and golfclubs.com accessible to visitors. This, however, will create two versions of your site with the same content. Tada! You now have a duplicate of your site. The same case holds true for sites that allow access through an HTTP: or HTTPS: on the link.

Filters and Sorting

Such elements as sorting and filters can also cause duplicate content. The results are formed on a separate page with the dynamic URL. The combination of different filters and sorting parameters result in the creation of numerous automatically generated pages. By ignoring this error, you let the crawler index all these pages.
filters and sorting that can cause duplicate content issues

Pages With And Without A Slash At The End

Another common cause of content duplication occurs when the website pages have two versions: with and without a slash at the end of the URL. Here is what it looks like:

mysite.com/stores/
mysite.com/stores

Referral Link Duplicates

When users visit the website via a referral link, which looks like «?ref=…», they should be automatically redirected to the canonical URL. But unfortunately, the developers often forget to do this, and thus the duplicates appear.

How To Fix Duplicate Content Issues

So if you have any duplicate page issues, you’ll be happy to know there are solutions. Here are the best ways to fix duplicate content issues and the best SEO tools to use for these solutions.

Find Duplicate Content On Your Website Via Serpstat

Before fixing the duplicate content issues on your website, you first have to find them. Here's where the Serpstat Site Audit tool comes in handy.

All you need to do is type in your domain name, customize the settings to your needs (number of pages to scan, scanning type, scanning speed, etc.), and click Start Audit. After the scanning is complete, you will see your website's Domain Health score (SDO) and the list of all technical issues on your website, including duplicate content:
Would you like to see which technical issues the Serpstat Site Audit tool can find on your website?
Click the button below, sign up and get a free 7-day trial!

Use a Plagiarism Checker

Plagiarism checkers help you spot any duplicates of your site or pages, especially if they aren’t yours. You’ll want to use SEO tools with plagiarism checker tools to do that. These tools scour the world wide web to find any site that has a copy of your content in some shape or form that’s confusing crawl bots.

Once you spot copies, you can proceed to reach out to these other sites to add a backlink or paraphrase their content. You also have the option of paraphrasing your own content if you’d like.

You should also use plagiarism checkers when creating new content to ensure you’re not the one duplicating someone else’s content. Without it, you could be unknowingly creating a duplicate that will hurt your and someone else’s rankings.

How To Check Your Text For Plagiarism — Tips, Tricks and Tools To Avoid It

Paraphrase Your Content

In cases where you might have duplicate content with other sites, the most natural thing to do is to go ahead and change up your content. Changing the content of your blog will not cause you to lose any keywords you’re already ranking for.

When paraphrasing, try to use a keyword guide to ensure you’re still hitting the right keywords to help you rank better. The best SEO tools for content will guide you when making new content, so you don’t lose track of your search engine optimization goals. There are even AI tools that can automatically paraphrase content for you. But check the paraphrased version first to ensure the quality is still good.

How To Automate Content Creation And Paraphrasing With an Artificial Intelligence

Use A 301 Redirect

In most cases, adding a 301 redirect to your page can help avoid any duplicate content to a page that might be a copy of the original. This applies to tracking codes, print-friendly pages, and any duplicate URL your site might create for other functions.


Adding a 301 redirect to a duplicate will combine tracking and crawling into one page. That way, your duplicate pages will stop competing with each other. Using a 301 could have a potentially constructive impact on your site because it improves relevance and popularity signals.
You can use an SEO tool to spot any of your pages competing with one another. You can add 301 redirects by either adding them through your domain’s htaccess file. If you’re using WordPress, you can also download a plugin that will handle your 301 redirects for your site.

Configuring Redirects On A Website: How To Avoid Mistakes

Use Rel="canonical"

Other websites might use a “rel=canonical” attribute in the HTML head of duplicate pages, so they don’t compete with the original page.

Here’s an example of what that might look like in your HTML header:
<head><link href="URL OF ORIGINAL PAGE" rel="canonical" /></head>
When adding your code, use the URL of the original page, so that crawl bots know which page is the original of that duplicate. Don’t forget the quotation marks, as that’s part of the code.
You can add the code through a WordPress plugin or edit it directly into your website’s header codes. Don’t do it yourself if you aren’t confident in your coding skills. You could end up ruining the whole website. Consider hiring a developer or SEO agent to take care of these steps for you.

How to use rel="canonical" tag for SEO

Meta Robots Noindex

Another way you can add to stop bots from indexing duplicate pages and sites is a Meta Robots Noindex code. This is usually called Meta Noindex,Follow. This tag is added to the HTML head of the individual pages you want to be excluded from indexing.

This tag allows search engines to crawl a link but instructs them to keep from including those links in indices. That way, you don’t restrict crawls on a site, which is something that Google doesn’t like to see.
Here’s how a Meta Robots tag can go on your header:
<head><meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"></head>
There are also plugins for WordPress that will allow you to insert robot tags to specific pages as you see fit.

Using CRM Software in Your SEO Efforts

When handling SEO efforts, CRM software solutions can help organize your efforts, especially when tracking down and fixing duplicates. Here are some ways a CRM tool can help you with search engine optimization activities.

Guest Blogging Management

One of the most efficient ways to build links is to write guest blogs on other websites. There are many sites that you can reach out to when building links. But sometimes, you can lose track of these blogs and fail to follow through.

Using a CRM tool’s pipeline, you can develop a funnel that allows you to track, follow up, and complete guest blogging initiatives so you have more active traffic coming to your website.

Link Insertion Opportunities

Sometimes you won’t need to write a blog from scratch. You can just ask for a link insertion on an existing blog or page that might already have the context needed to point to your site. In these cases, using a CRM system to track link insertion opportunities and monitor responses should help streamline your link-building efforts.

Reach out to Content Syndicators

When you do find content syndicators, you’re also going to want to reach out to them. Using a CRM will also organize and streamline that effort. While you could simply email syndicators, there’s a chance you might forget about some, which will prove harmful to your SEO efforts as it only takes one or two duplicates to affect your ranking negatively.

If you want to use a CRM tool to help with SEO and link-building tasks, we recommend trying HubSpot. Check out this HubSpot CRM review to learn more about the tool and what it can do for you.

Conclusion

Duplicate content is a major issue that may lead to a significant drop in search rankings and traffic loss. While it will not result in search engine penalties for your website, it's 100% worth paying attention to.

There are many reasons why duplicate content can appear, some of which we have listed in this article, and it's crucial to fix them promptly.
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