Why is Having Duplicate Content an Issue for SEO? The Surprising Truth!

The marketing strategies of different industries have changed over the years. From using bench ads and posters to television ads. With the evolution came the possibility of using creative, technical content to promote your products. 

As these techniques become more popular, search engines make use of ranking algorithms to decide which results are relevant and helpful for its user. Thus making the best use of SEO techniques and staying away from anything that messes with your website’s ranking is critical.  

Most of the websites and online marketing teams don’t completely understand why having duplicate content is an issue for SEO; how does it affect their website? Or how exactly do SEO rankings work? This article can help you gain some insight into these matters and help you build a better marketing website. 

What Exactly Is Duplicate Content?

Similar contents that appear on two URLs are considered to be duplicates. It can be identical or nearly identical, and it may or may not be found on the same website or different websites. Duplicate materials on different URLs create a critical problem for search engines.

Since the materials in different URLs are nearly identical, it confuses search engines and makes it difficult for them to determine which webpage version to display; this affects the overall traffic of all the websites with similar writings. Search engines like Google have started to implement Google penalties for websites that display duplicate or plagiarized materials, 

Duplication of contents can occur due to accident or by purpose. Sometimes, the creators might accidentally post duplicate threads on their website. In certain cases, people might try to create website traffic by stealing exclusive news from others. 

In order to improve the results and serve the users better, search engines rely on SEO ranking algorithms to determine the best quality relevant websites.

What Are SEO Rankings?

Search engine optimization rankings (SEO rankings) refers to the website’s position in the search engine result pages. Search engine’s use their algorithm to rank websites based on keywords, keyword placement, external and internal links and so on. Optimizing the content according to SEO guidelines helps search engines to find relevant web pages, crawl through them and rank your website higher on the search engine result pages.

Having a good SEO ranking helps your page to be displayed within the top results shown by various search engines. Duplicate content effect the SEO ranking in a negative way, while executing a query from users, any keywords within the plagiarized material will be ignored by the search engines and won’t be considered while indexing and ranking results. 

For instance, search engines like Google have mentioned that they are focused on indexing and showing websites with distinct and unique information tailored to meet the needs of the users. They prefer to maintain the algorithm to exclude pages with duplicate content. 

Why Is Having Duplicate Content An Issue For SEO?

Since plagiarized materials on your website might be flagged as irrelevant and without distinct information, it will severely affect your SEO rankings. These are the main issues that website’s face due to plagiarization.

  • Less Organic Traffic: As the name suggests, having duplicate content effects the search engine ranking and reduces organic traffic to your website. But this has minimal effect on paid traffic, which includes various advertisements.

For instance, if three web pages have similar content since the search engine is not sure which is original and which is distinct, all three pages will struggle in ranking and will have reduced traffic.

  • Google Penalties: Google has mentioned that they have seriously considered giving penalties to web pages that use plagiarized material. They have even mentioned the possibility of deindexing a website. It is a super rare scenario, and it is done only on websites if there is evidence of purposeful scraping. 
  • Removing Indexed Pages From Results: If your website has lots of similar pages, instead of downranking on results, google might refuse to index it. If your websites have pages that are not getting indexed, it might be due to scraping from other websites and plagiarizing.

Apart from the issues you might face due to plagiarizing, there might be authenticity issues that affect your webpage. Viewers and users might not feel authentic if the contents used in the webpage is scraped and not original. 

A study conducted by Raven Tools found that duplication can cause up to 63% reduction in organic traffic, and around 29% of sites were affected by this issue.

How Can You Prevent Duplicate Contents From Affecting Your Website?

Since it is essential to avoid duplication of content, addressing duplicate content in your website is an essential part of website management. 

  • Content Audit And Content Management: Regularly auditing the content published on your websites and using version tags or canon tags to specify the different updated versions of content can help you identify plagiarization issues and make your website relevant and updated to the users. 
  • Monitor Website Traffic: Properly monitoring your website’s organic traffic can help you analyze the various SEO ranking issues faced by the web pages. This will help you promptly address them. 
  • Canonicalization: Using different canon tags for different versions can help search engines identify the relevant and latest version of content. In addition, Google’s John Mueller mentioned in one of the interviews that canonicalization issues could severely affect your website’s crawl budget and impact the indexing of important pages.  
  • 301 Redirects: A 301 redirect replaces an existing url with another new url. Everytime the old url is called for, 301 redirects ensure that the user will be navigated to the new url. It acts as a permanent replacement for a URL. 

This helps in communicating to the search engines that the url has been replaced with a new one and helps in maintaining the website’s search engine rankings and user access. This concept can be used on duplicate or similar contents, redirecting any such pages to its original source. This will surely enhance your SEO rankings. 

A study conducted by Backlinko revealed that less than 1% of users clicked the second page of results. Thus having your website listed in the first page of results is critical to promote traffic.


As marketing strategies and content-based marketing have achieved new heights, employing different SEO optimization techniques can help you improve the website’s ranking in search engine ranking pages. Understanding why duplicate content is an issue for SEO can help you use different techniques, such as redirecting duplicate pages and properly improving crawl budget allocation to help you achieve better results.

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Hi, I am the founder of Wordscloud and TheMarketerSoftware. Prior to starting my own business, I worked as an application developer for a well-known tech company. However, my true passion lies in online business, which is why I decided to pursue it as a career.

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