It’s commonly held that duplicate or substantially similar content is bad for SEO. When Google finds duplicate content, this creates a conflict for the algorithm. Essentially, Google gets confused as to which page should be the primary ranking URL for a given search query, so it chooses the one it believes to be the most relevant. Unfortunately, the URL it chooses may not be the one you wish to display — and, in cases of exact duplicate content, the other versions of the page may even be filtered out of search results.
The best way to fix this issue is to consolidate the duplicate/similar content’s ranking signals into a singular version of the page. In practice, this is usually done by implementing either a 301 redirect, canonical or “noindex” tag.
While many of us know this to be true, it can often be helpful to see examples of the different types of duplicate content that exist in the wild and how to best handle them. To better help you find and fix duplicate/similar content, I’ve provided case studies for three different instances where we consolidated these types of pages and noted the results we saw.
1. Consolidating exact duplicate pages
The simplest type of duplicate content issue you may encounter is a straightforward duplicate page. This page will contain the exact same content as another page on the website. For one of our clients that advertises franchise listings, we found two pages that contained the exact same content targeted towards “low-cost franchises.” You can see that the two pages were identical here:
Because there was no need for both of these pages, we suggested that our client 301 redirect one of them to the other page. Personally, I love using 301 redirects if possible because it points both users and link equity to a single URL. It tends to send a stronger signal than the other consolidation methods. Almost immediately, we saw rankings and traffic to the original page spike.
Since the 301 redirect was implemented, organic traffic improved by over 200 percent to the page, and it is now consistently one of the top three pages on the site each month.
How did we decide which page to 301 redirect? To do this, we took a look at three different factors:
- Which page the site internally linked to the most.
- Which page was currently ranking the best.
- Which page had the most organic traffic historically.
The final destination page we selected had the most internal links and traffic and was…