Managing duplicate web content for SEO
As your website increases in popularity and size it can become extremely challenging to keep track of all textual content, let alone identifying duplicate content. You may already know that having duplicate content can hinder the search rankings of a website, and there are good reasons for this. For example, the traffic for a particular keyword may be divided over multiple pages. But, what if someone else copies your content? Although webmasters around the world have expressed their concerns on the issue, Google and other search engines are yet to comment on the solution. We have put together our recommendations to avoid issues caused by duplicate content within your website.
Identify Duplicate content:
There are several ways to identify duplicate content, one of which is using Google itself: Take a snippet from the content and query it in Google, and including ‘site:www.yoursite.com’ at the end of the search query, for example query in Google ‘this is a site about shoes site:www.yoursite.com’. This query will return all the pages in your site with that content, well that Google can see anyway.
Keep your URL’s consistent:
Different versions of the same URL could return completely different web pages. For example, you can have a URL with www (http://www.yoursite.com) or without www (http://yoursite.com), each showing its own page. Whether you want to use ‘http://www.yoursite.com’, or ‘http://yoursite.com’, or any other variation, you must choose one you want to use and stick with it at all times. It is called your preferred URL and if you are using Google’s webmaster tools you must incorporate this in your webmaster tools preferred URL setting. If you set your preferred domain as http://www.yoursite.com, Google will treat links to http://yoursite.com exactly the same as links to http://www.yoursite.com (your preferred domain). To set the preferred domain for your site on Google webmaster tools, sign into your webmaster account, click Site configuration, and then click Settings. In the Preferred domain section, choose your preferred domain.
In some cases, it could be too late to pick one among the different versions of the same URL. In such cases you need to canonicalize. ‘Canonicalization’ means keeping one of the different versions of your URL as the main one and adding an HTML element to all non-canonical versions in order to tell the search engines which the correct version (canonical version) of the URL is.
For example, if you want http://www.yoursite.com to be your canonical URL rather than http://yoursite.com, you can indicate this to search engines by adding a
element with the attribute rel=”canonical” to the section of http://yoursite.com.
So, you would add
to the section of http://yoursite.com. You add this element to all non-canonical URLs to tell search engine that these non-canonical URLs all refer to the canonical page at http://www.yoursite.com.
Please note that search engines recommend canonicalization, but don’t guarantee to follow that preference in all cases.
Use 301 Redirection:
If, for some reason, you choose neither to remove nor canonicalize, you could set 301 Redirection (meaning: moved permanently) to divert both spiders and users to the correct page. A 301 redirect is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page.
In Summary, managing duplicate content to enhance SEO isn’t a difficult job if you have a good understanding of the techniques.
Article posted on Thursday, July, 28th, 2011 at 11:00 am
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