The recent Google Panda updates have made it impossible to get away with duplicate content. Google and other search engines consider duplicate content to be Black Hat SEO, and your website can be penalized as a result.
Google will diminish the keyword rankings and organic SEO value of pages that have duplicate content. You should, therefore, avoid these issues if you want a high ranking in SERPs (search engine results pages). Another reason to get rid of duplicate content is that it brings you out as being unoriginal to visitors to your website or blog.
Duplicate content includes duplicate web content, canonicalization issues (when two websites have different URLs that point to the same place like http://domain.com or https://domain.com, mirror sites, and descriptions of products from a manufacturer.) So, how can you become an expert about warding-off duplicate content for better organic SEO results?
1. You could avoid duplicate content by ensuring that your products have a single URL. Products that are accessible through two or more categories, including when you have a product in the main category and the same product in a “special offer”, will appear to be duplicate. This perhaps the most common method used by most organic SEO experts.
2. Noindex tag: The addition of Meta Noindex tags is important because it ensures that Google does not index your Web pages. Duplicate content problems start when Google indexes Web pages that have duplicate content. Use the Meta Noindex tags on the specific Web pages or folders that serve up search results. Most eCommerce organic SEO experts will include such pages.
3. Writing short descriptions of what your different categories helps visitors in their search leads to greater leads conversion. It also helps in search engine optimization. If, however, you have a website that has different products under the same category, you will be forced to distribute them over different Web pages.
As an example, if you have an electronics website, the category “Television” may see URLs looking like ‘/televisions/’, ‘/televisions/?page=2?, ‘/televisions/?page=3?, and so on. When you have “paginated” Web pages that have different products, ensure that the category description is only on the first Web page of such a category since this is considered to be duplicate content, albeit a duplicate form of the same.
4. Instead of using a conocial tag, just go to Google Webmaster Tools and ensure that dynamic parameters are not included. As an emerging organic SEO expert, you could exclude such specific parameters as “filter” and “sort”. This is indeed safer than the use of canonical tags for organic SEO. It is, however, important to note that some parameters have obscure names and you should therefore be careful when choosing what to exclude.
5. Do not rely on the product description that is given by the manufacturer or supplier of the product/s you are selling. Almost any organic SEO expert is aware of these common issues. This is because such descriptions are given to multiple eCommerce sites and you will be accused of having duplicate content.
Rewrite product descriptions and check them for plagiarism. There are several online tools for doing this. Note that it is much more difficult to change descriptions that are generated by feeds from product manufacturers, which is why only few organic SEO experts pursue this route. In such a case, write a unique description and make sure it appears before the description from the manufacturer.
This article was contributed by Tyler Tafelsky, an organic SEO expert at Top of Mind | Traverse City SEO. Tyler has been a professional organic SEO expert for almost 5 years, and he offers a wealth of experience in the search marketing industry.