Any company running an online shop knows the pitfalls of having a growing website: increased need for better inventory, more website errors that turn off potential customers, and basically more things to worry about. On top of that, search engine spiders are also on the lookout for higher quality and better content.
One of the basic errors that most online store owners don’t seem to mind is content duplication. Let’s say you are selling an LED TV from a reputable manufacturer, and it comes in various screen sizes. Naturally, you will create pages for each of these TV screen sizes: 32 inch, 40 inch, and 50 inch TVs. The manufacturer has already prepared the product description for the TV model, but it’s the same for all screen sizes. If you put the description on all of the pages, you will end up falling into the trap of duplicate content without you realizing it.
Why is content duplication bad? When search bots find the same content over and over again across your pages, they may misconstrue your intentions as a ploy to manipulate search engine results and Google rankings. Worse, they may consider your website spam. In this case, Google may resort to taking action against your website, pulling you out of the search index completely.
If you are not sure whether your e-commerce website is committing this deadly SEO mistake, here are some search engine optimization tips to help you prevent content duplication:
1. Check Google’s site search
Go to Google and use the search term “site:yoursite.com”, where yoursite.com is the domain of your website. At the last page of search results, check if there is a link for “omitted pages”. Google usually prevents pages with duplicate content to appear in search results. If you don’t see any omitted pages, then it’s a good start.
2. Use redirects for indexed URLs that look the same as another page
Search engines might have indexed most of your site pages already. If you find one of your URLs on the “omitted pages” section of Google’s search results, you can use a 301 permanent redirect on that URL, so that search bots and site visitors can be sent to a page that you have chosen to highlight. Redirects will prevent search engines from indexing pages with duplicate content, giving your website better chances to rank higher in results.
3. Modify pages with similar content.
In cases where you cannot help but place the same paragraphs in different pages, you may avoid the label of “duplicate content” by adding more content to the page. This gives the page uniqueness compared with the others, and prompts search bots to look at your pages as unique and different. However, if you really cannot add more content, it might be best to combine all of these similar pages into one. For the example on TV sets, you can use a single page with checkboxes to select between screen sizes. Anyway, the features for all sizes are the same.