Your Definitive Guide to Identifying Duplicate Content

Justins Duplicates Post
Justin McIntyre
June 7, 2016

12 hours of reality television? Sure. 38 bags of gummies? Gimme. And 86 frozen pizzas? Get in my belly. These are unequivocal cases of where more simply is better.

But when it comes to SEO, more isn’t always better. Duplication is the existence of multiple URLs that contain identical information or content. These HTML twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets—you get the picture—can come in a number of forms. Read on to find out how duplicate content could exist on your site and how it can affect search engine crawlers.


The many types of duplicate content

Sorts, paginated series, and faceted selection

Does your website have a large number of products or offerings that can be sorted according to price, rating, alphabetical order, or another manner? Or does your website offer multiple pages of products, including a view all page? Finally, does your website have a sidebar that allows users to drill down to their favorite color, size, or brand? All of these, when left to roam the wilds of the internet, will generally result in duplication.



Tracking URLs

At Perfect Search, we value data and results above all else, so we get that you need to track the what, who, when, and where of visit and content performance. This means creating parameterized tracking URLs that are, more often than not, duplicates of the authoritative page.

This poison in the well can quickly spiral out of control until you find yourself with hundreds of variations of a single URL. The tell-tale sign of a parameter URL is normally, but not always, a question mark.



Duplication by happenstance

We all misplace things—our cell phones, our keys, and, when it comes to digital marketing, sometimes even URLs. Occasionally URLs get mixed up and we create superfluous variations of the same page with a URL structure including dashes, backslashes, or even a version with a difference in capitalization. A few examples have been provided below:



What are the effects of duplication?

All of the above could be either intentional or accidental occurrences of duplication. Nevertheless, the existence of duplicate content creates problems for search engines.

If you happen to have any of these types of duplication roving the information highway, you may suffer ramifications like the ones below. 


Duplication may result in split equity between URLs

If you’re doing content the right way and avoiding marketing snafus that we all too often hear about, you might build up quite the impressive backlink profile. And good for you; it’s no secret that this is a strong quality signal to search engines!

Unfortunately, when duplication strikes, you may find yourself in a situation where duplicate URLs have acquired value over time. This effectively dilutes any equity that you have acquired for a particular page because search engines simply don’t know where to concentrate the “link juice” and you’re missing out on an opportunity for a unified front.


Ranking woes

While search crawlers will freely scamper, scoot, and scuttle across your domain, they aren’t very discerning. If duplication is present, search engines may not know which page to display in the search engine result page (SERP). This is especially true if each of the duplicates has garnered equity.


Crawler allotment

Crawlers are a lot like me—they’ll only hunt for pizza so long before they just give up and take a nap. In other words, search crawlers will only budget a specific amount of time for crawling and assessing your site.

If you happen to have a large number of duplicate URLs, this crawl allotment is not being optimally used and a number of valuable URLs may be overlooked when the crawl bot moves on to bluer skies and greener pastures.


Finding the duplicate content antidote

Duplication is scary stuff. It comes in countless forms and, if left unbridled, can cause serious damage to your organic potential.

Fortunately, careful SEO services can remedy the situation for you. If you suspect your site may be afflicted by duplication, be sure to seek out some SEO expert advice and get your site back to its full potential.


Do you have any duplication questions? How many frozen pizzas would you eat? We want to hear from you. Tweet us at @Perfect_Search!

Justin McIntyre
Director, SEO & Content

Justin hails from Mineral Ridge, Ohio, but the #1 place he’s dying to visit is Hogwarts. His guilty pleasure? Frozen pizza, A.K.A fro’za. When asked what his dream vehicle was, Justin replied, “Drive? Pshh, I’d teleport.”

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