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Duplicate content and how to avoid it

John Murray

To achieve a high ranking in Google and other search engines requires high-quality content, but if this is simply taken from elsewhere or not altered sufficiently, your website is likely to be penalised. Obviously it is not good practise to plagiarise content from a competitor’s website, but some content may be flagged as duplicate without you realizing it. For example:

Printer friendly pages

If your website has a printer-friendly version of a page that has the same text as the non-printer version, bear in mind that search engines may regard this as duplicate content.

Product descriptions

If you sell products not produced by your company, you may be tempted to copy every word of the manufacturer’s product description that appears on their website. This will be seen as duplicate content by the search engines.

Products appearing on multi pages

If you have an ecommerce website, then the same products may be listed under different categories with unique URLs. If different URLs have exactly the same product descriptions, this is duplicate content. To avoid this, include ‘nofollow’ tags and ‘noindex’ tags to prevent the search engine crawlers from indexing the duplicate pages.


If you quote from another articles, as long as you link back to the article then Google will not penalise you for duplicate content. However, quoting a few paragraphs without linking back will be seen as duplicate content.


If you suspect that your site may have duplicate content, there are online tools that you can use to give you an idea.

Siteliner detects both duplicate content and broken links, while Oncrawl is a paid-for service that detects duplicate content and does a full SEO audit of your website.

Scanning your site with these tools will make sure that the search engines do not penalise you for duplication.

John is every inch the wordsmith and loves a game of Scrabble above all else. With experience writing for newspapers, John’s time at university was spent studying Creative Writing – something which comes across in his love of the pun.

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