Imagine spending countless hours creating a unique painting. When your masterpiece is complete, the facility where your masterpiece is stored makes 2 identical copies of the painting before sending it off to an art gallery. Unfortunately, the art gallery actually receives all 3 versions of your masterpiece. Not knowing which the original is, the gallery chooses a version that actually turns out to be a copy to display.
When you arrive at the gallery for the opening night, your mouth drops open as you spot it. A duplicate copy of your masterpiece has been displayed instead of the original.
Duplicate content on a website, like multiple identical versions of a painting in an art gallery, can cause the wrong content to be spotlighted in the search engine results. Out of the box, WordPress does have issues with duplicate content. This tutorial will cover what duplicate content is and how to setup WordPress by Yoast to avoid duplicate content on your own WordPress website or blog.
Why Should You Avoid Duplicate Content?
According to Google’s Webmaster Tools, duplicate content “generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
Google does work hard to index and display pages with distinct information by using special filters.
If a website has two versions of the same content, Google will select one to display. If, however, Google perceives that duplicate content is being shown “with the intent to manipulate rankings and/or to deceive users,” the search engine giant may make indexing and ranking adjustments in rare cases.
Google’s advice is to understand your content management system (CMS) when it comes to duplicate content. In the company’s own words:
Make sure you’re familiar with how content is displayed on your web site. Blogs, forums, and related systems often show the same content in multiple formats. For example, a blog entry may appear on the home page of a blog, in an archive page, and in a page of other entries with the same label.
Put Your Best Foot Forward – Let the Original Shine
As with the artist’s original painting, you will want your original content to be indexed and displayed by Google instead of an inadvertent duplicate. The following includes a visual tutorial to help you set up WordPress SEO by Yoast to avoid duplicate content within your own website.
Steps to Avoid Duplicate Content with WordPress SEO by Yoast
Under Titles & Metas in the WordPress SEO by Yoast administrative section, locate each of the following tabs:
- General Tab – under the General tab, locate “Sitewide meta settings.” Check “Noindex subpages of archives.” This will ensure that archives with duplicate content will not show up in search results.
- Taxonomies Tab – under the Taxonomies tab, you will see options for Categories, Tags and Format. The Format “noindex, follow” will be checked. This will tell the search engines not to index a page and to follow it. You will need to make a decision on categories and tags. If you have a smaller site, you might like to choose either the category or the tag structure. When you have chosen one, check the “noindex, follow” on the other.
- Other Tab
- Author Archives – If you are the only author on your WordPress blog, you will want to disable the Author Archives. If you do have multiple authors and want to use the Author Archives, be sure to check the “no index, follow” next to the Meta Robots box.
- Date Archives – Date based archives are another source of WordPress duplicate content. To ensure that the date archives do not cause duplicate content, check the “no index, follow” next to the Meta Robots box.
How to Tell if Your WordPress Site has Duplicate Content
There are a few quick ways to determine if your WordPress website or blog has duplicate content indexed by Google. These methods are not conclusive and may not show every duplicate content issue on your website. However, they will give you a good idea if your site currently has an issue.
- Google: Go to Google.com and search for your site’s indexed pages by using this format: site:www.yoursite.com. Examine the indexed links of your site and look at the URLs. If any of the links in the search results have any of the following included, it is time to get to work.
- Google Webmaster Tools: Use Google Webmaster Tools to see if there are any duplicate content concerns by going to Dashboard > Search Appearance > HTML Improvements. If Google has indexed pages and has detected duplicate content, Duplicate meta descriptions and Duplicate title tags will show on the HTML Improvements page. Here is an example:
Will Duplicate Content Hurt Your Search Rankings?
As Google will choose one page of two version of the same content to include in the search results, generally duplicate content will not hurt your search rankings. According to Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting in an article about avoiding duplicate content published by Bruce Clay, Inc.,
For the most part, duplicate content operates as a filter. This means it is not a penalty. What this means is that when a search engine sees multiple copies of the same piece of content they will choose only one of them to show in the search results.
In the same article, Eric does point out that he has “encountered an actual penalty situation that resulted from duplicate content.” That site had a total of 70% of the pages that were duplicates.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you will want to avoid duplicate content on your WordPress driven website or blog to avoid potential problems and to provide your visitors with a great user experience. By using the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin and properly setting it up, you will be ensuring that your content masterpiece will be spotlighted as you intend it to in the search engine results.
Over to You
Were you aware that out of the box, WordPress has so many duplicate content issues?
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