How it affects SEO
In the past, any duplicate content could pose a risk to a site’s position on the ranking page. Today, algorithms are more sophisticated, which means they can differentiate between different kinds of repeated content, but it does depend on the particular content in question.
Search engines can struggle with duplicate content when:
- It is unclear which version should be included in their indices, and which versions should be excluded.
- The link metrics of the page are unclear.
- It is unclear which version is the original, or which is the best version to rank highest on the results page.
It is every search engine’s job to provide the most relevant list of results to each user. Algorithms are created to pick up on content that is maliciously duplicated and punish it, as well as content that provides a poor user experience.
This can have important SEO consequences for specific webpages. If Google or another search engine determines the content on a website is not valuable, a more valuable version of the page is located elsewhere, or the content has been maliciously stolen and reposted, the ranking of that website can drop significantly or be removed altogether.
Even if no malicious activity is detected, websites can still drop in the search results page rankings. For example, if multiple versions of the same content are found on the web, Google will determine which one is the best to list first on the search results page. Every subsequent duplicate will be listed later, diluting the SEO effectiveness of the duplicates.
Linking problems, where multiple links lead to different versions of the same content instead of having all inbound links pointing to just one piece of content, can also dilute the results.