Aqueous Digital

What causes duplicate content and how to fix it

Been called out by your competitors for copying their content or unintentionally duplicating your own across your website? To help you avoid duplicate content and the problems that come with it, the talented team of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts and writers here at Aqueous Digital are here to help.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to brush up on your SEO knowledge or are struggling to get your content in those top-ranking positions, finding out more about good duplicate content SEO can help avoid ranking issues.

Below, we explore what is meant by duplicate content, and why fixing duplicate content is important for SEO purposes.


What is duplicate content?

Put simply, duplicate content refers to content that appears in two places (two different URLs) online.

It could feature substantial sections of the original content, be strikingly similar, or exactly the same. Duplicate content can also be identified within and across domains.

By way of illustrating, you might expect duplicate content to be flagged if one domain directly lifts and publishes another domain’s content. While this is true, duplicate content will also be flagged if a domain re-uses content from one URL in another URL under the same domain.

Regardless of which type of duplicate content you’ve come across, both instances are problematic for SEO.


Why is duplicate content problematic?

A business’ SEO efforts are focused on helping a domain and its contents to rank highly in search results.

However, search engines like Google can become confused by duplicate content because they’re unsure which of the identical (or very similar pages) they should be ranking.

As a result, any pages that a search engine identifies as duplicate content are likely to be ranked lower, working against the SEO aims of every domain.


What causes duplicate content?

Is your site filled with duplicate content, but you’re not sure how it’s got there? Or maybe you didn’t realise you had duplicate content within your domain.

To help you keep an eye out for duplicates and prevent them from affecting your SEO efforts, we explore three of the most common ways that duplicate content is created below.

Separate site versions

Some sites that use both http:// and https:// versions are likely to run into duplicate content issues. This is because the content is available at both locations, so they compete against one another and cause search engines to become confused. The same issues can arise with www and non-www sites if the same (or similar) content is live and visible to search engines like Google.

Copied content

While it’s rare that domains will intentionally lift and directly copy your content onto theirs, it does happen. This is particularly common for e-commerce sites that all use the manufacturer’s description to advertise the same items. As a result, duplicate content is created across multiple domains. However, this can be easily fixed by writing original content or cracking down on any copyright infringements you come across.

Google’s predictive method

To help detect duplicate content, Google uses a predictive approach that analyses URL patterns. This means they predict whether a page is likely to contain duplicate content by assessing the similarity of the URL. Unfortunately, however, this method can lead to some pages being mistakenly classed as duplicate content.

How to fix duplicate content

To help you combat duplicate content and its side effects, we’ve listed some of the ways that you can fix this inconvenient issue. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that as the causes of duplicate content vary, so do the solutions. As a result, you must ensure you choose the right solution to fix the specific cause of the duplicate content.

If SEO isn’t your strong suit, it’s worth asking professionals to conduct an audit to identify the cause of your duplicate content and rectify it with the best solution.


Redirect the search engine

With a helping hand from a simple 301 redirect, you can easily redirect the user (and any search engines that come to index your content) away from the duplicate and to the original piece of content. Ideal for fixing duplicate content within a domain, this prevents the pages from competing with one another and helps the original URL to rank even higher.

Avoid indexing

If Google can’t index the page with duplicate content, then it can’t penalise its ranking. By using the meta robots tag, ‘Meta Noindex,Follow’ (also known as ‘content=”noindex,follow”’) Google and other search engines can be prevented from indexing certain pages. Suitable for solving duplicate content caused by pagination, this fix still allows search engines to crawl the site, it just stops them from indexing the page and flagging it as a duplicate.

Set a preferred domain

Ideal for fixing duplicate content issues caused by separate site versions, we suggest setting a preferred domain on Google Search Console. This action lets Google and its Googlebot know how they should handle each domain. Alongside setting a preferred domain to highlight which version you want to achieve the top search results, you can also use parameter handling to direct Google’s attention to the right URLs.


Contact Aqueous Digital today!

For support with technical SEO, content strategy creation and content production, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced team of SEO experts and writers here at Aqueous Digital.

As an award-winning digital marketing agency, we’ve helped countless clients to boost their rankings and achieve a wide range of business goals through tailored SEO.

Specialising in reputation management, SEO, and content strategies, we can carry out in-depth SEO and content audits to help spot any duplicate content and swiftly rectify potential issues.

Regardless of whether you’re eager to climb the SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions) or build brand awareness, rest assured we can help you to connect with your target audience.

Keen to speak to one of our knowledgeable SEO technicians? To book your no-obligation consultation and free website health check, feel free to contact our Liverpool team.

You can either call us on 0800 285 1424, submit your enquiry via email to or fill out our online contact form.

Once we’ve received your enquiry, we’ll ensure a member of our team gets back to you to discuss your specific content and SEO requirements.

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