The timeless mantra that is drilled into any aspiring SEO manager when they first enter into the online marketing world is that ‘content is king’, and it can be argued that this doctrine remains true even to this day. Due to this actuality, ensuring that your site does not possess duplicate content is pivotal to avoiding penalties and losing ranking gains moving forward in the future. Indeed, Google are constantly introducing new software that identifies and destroys sites that are proven to have plagiarised content present on their domain.
However, not all duplicate content present on sites are intentional, and sometimes people find their sites getting caught out and penalised by Google’s duplicate content filter despite the fact that they are innocent of any purposeful plagiarism. So how can you ensure that you avoid the filter’s gaze whilst resolving small short term duplicate content problems? This issue has been addressed by Google’s head of Webspam Matt Cutts, in his most recent video to webmasters across the globe.
It is important to note that the video doesn’t contain any information about the procedure that those who have larger duplicate content problems should take to alleviate their difficulties, so anyone who has fully duplicated sites will not find any of the continents of the message useful. The type of duplicate content that Cutts discusses in this video is when there is a legitimate reason why content is either identical or very similar to content that appears already on another page on the site.
“I’m assuming this is white hat, high-quality news publisher, and you have short-term duplicate content, that you really don’t want to have but maybe there is a shooting or something you have breaking news,” Cutts said.
“One thing you can do is use the rel=canonical tag because even if you have multiple copies of a short story, you’ll be dividing the PageRank between those multiple stories. If it’s all on the same topic, or all the stories are on the exact same incident, and they are very close to duplicate, I would use rel=canonical to point to one home URL.”
Utilising the rel=canonical tag in circumstances such as these will enable visitors to read individual pages that have alike content, but will function in the same manner that a news article which updates itself numerous times a day does as breaking news filters through.
When an individual is searching for information on the topic that your content covers in the future, you will want to make sure that they locate the one page that has the best oversight on the topic, rather than being given a multitude of other links that direct to pages with equivocal content on the same subject matter. In order to ensure that people are directed to the same with the best oversight on the subject matter, you will have to utilise the rel=canonical tag.
It is important to remember that Cutts is highlighting that you can utilise the rel-canonical tag with similar content as well as duplicate work.
“That will help clarify that, OK, I might short-term have some duplicate stuff while this is breaking news, but after stuff gets all cleaned up, this is the standard spot, the preferred location on the web where I’d like this information to sit,” he said.
“If you do that and you don’t have huge amounts of duplicate text all over your site, then you should be in pretty good shape as far as avoiding any sort of spam action or anything along those lines.”
Essentially, if you are apprehensive about the presence of duplicate content on your site, then utilising rel=canonical whilst you address your difficulties will ensure that your website is left unscathed from Google penalties.