How to Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty

What is Duplicate Content?

Before we can successfully avoid duplicate content, we must first have a clear understanding of what duplicate content is. According to Google, duplicate contents refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains, that either completely matches other content or is significantly similar.   Posting duplicate content is a big no-no. Search engines, and particularly Google, are now heavily penalizing websites for duplicate content. If your site contains any duplicate content, you should remove it as soon as possible to avoid penalty.  

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

The following tips can help you avoid duplicate content while ensuring that your visitors are able to access the content you want them to access:  
  • Set your preferred domain. Your preferred domain is the version of URL that you want seen on search engine results. To create backlinks to your site, you can use different versions of your URL. You can use either the www version or the non-www version. If you do this, however, you should also set your preferred domain using Google Webmaster Tools. Once you set your preferred domain, Google will use this selection for all future crawls of your site. It may take some time before Google applies the changes, therefore it would be helpful to use a 301 redirect in order to send traffic from a non-preferred URL.
  • Use parameter handling tools. Google strongly recommends the use of parameter handling tools to improve the process of of handling duplicate content. Parameter handling informs Google how to handle URLs that contain specific parameters. You can specify which URL parameters to ignore and which URL parameters should be recognized. This way, if you have a URL that has similar content which can be considered a duplicate but which you consider more important, Google spiders will give that page a higher priority in search results and ignore others.
  • Specify your primary page. If you have a few versions of one page that contain duplicate content, you can specify which is your primary page out of these pages. This will tell search engine spiders (crawlers?) that the content found in other pages refers to the content in you primary page.
  • Minimize similar content. If you have several pages with similar content, consider either expanding each page to contain unique content or, alternatively, consolidating the pages into one. One good example of this is if you have separate pages for two tourist attractions located in one city. Both pages may contain the same information. Consider merging them or making the contents of each page unique.
  • Syndicate carefully. If you syndicate your content on other sites, make sure that the syndicating website includes a link referring to your original article.
  There is a lot more to know about the right way to deal with, and avoid, duplicate content. Additional materials are available on the internet that can help you avoid duplicate content penalties.