Duplicate pages could be killing your website

Search engines aim to give users the best possible results. They want users to find relevant, valuable information quickly, minimising repetition. Pages containing largely similar or duplicate content are filtered out and hidden, and websites containing many similar pages are penalised and given low rankings.

While your website might provide some really useful, unique content, you might be unaware that it could also be serving duplicate pages.

Have a quick check

You don't need an expert to do this, and it could make the difference between your webpages appearing on page one, page ten, or not at all. The few tips below will help to prevent, remove and avoid duplicate pages, and associated problems.

www.

Decide whether to include the www at the beginning of your web address or not. Neither has an advantage, but you shouldn't use both options. Create a 301 redirect from the option you don't want to use. You may need to ask your webmaster to do this, or get in touch with me.

Trailing /, or no trailing /

The pages on your website may or may not end with a slash. Try adding or removing the slash from the end of the address, and see if you still reach the same page. E.g:

http://www.nickjohnston.co.uk/guides-and-resources

and

http://www.nickjohnston.co.uk/guides-and-resources/

If both cases result in the same page, without the address updating itself to the correct version, you've got a duplicate.

To prevent this, you need to add a redirect from the incorrect address to the correct one. This process will vary depending on your setup. Talk to your webmaster, or get in touch with me.

Old formats

If the URLs on your website have been made more user friendly, make sure the pages aren't duplicated on the old URLs. Include a 301 redirect from the old URL, and update any links on your website to the new address.

Capitalisation

Believe it or not, search engines do differentiate between lowercase and uppercase letters. Use the same case for any links, and perhaps create a rule to keep your web addresses in the correct format. Let me know if you need any assistance.

Empty pages

If you're in the process of filling your website with great content, avoid making pages public before they're complete. It feels good to get new content online, but be patient and make it public when it's ready to impress.

Be careful with syndication

If you publish content for others to syndicate, be careful how much you allow to be used. Offer a brief summary of your content, rather than your complete text.

Likewise, if consuming content from other websites, be careful not to overuse it. Use a sentence or two, rather than a complete article.

Minimise site-wide text

Don't use lots of identical text in the footer of every page. Move any repetitive text into a separate page, and link to it from the footer instead. This will help to reduce the similarities between pages on your site.

Duplicates elsewhere

Make use of Copyscape regularly. You can use their website to check to see if others have copied your content. If someone has, the best approach is to contact the website owner. They have copied your work, but don't be aggressive. Be direct, and ask them to remove the content.

While the pleasant approach often works best, the occasional bad apple may not remove your copied work. In this case, you can file a DMCA Infringement Notification to have the offending webpage's removed from Google search results.

Any questions?

If you have any questions of queries, just let me know. I'll only be too pleased to help.

Last updated on 17 July 2010, at 17:24.