SEO Tip: Are You Aware of Your Duplicate Content?

Duplicate Content Penalty

Google will penalize you for duplicate content. Unfortunately, it won’t throw a flag though; you may not be aware of being penalized.

You may have duplicate content that is harming your website, and you may be totally unaware of it! You may think I am referring to people who come to your site and copy your articles. Well, although that’s a threat as well, today we are going to discuss duplicate content on your own site.

That’s right. You may be the very one responsible for the duplicate content that is harming your site. Google may be throwing a penalty flag at you (harming your rankings), and you don’t even know about it.

The Web used to work a little differently. Whether you typed www.domainname.com or you just left out the “www,” you would get to the site that you wanted to visit.

However, in today’s Google-run world, the “www” is considered a subdomain and is considered a totally different website, a duplicate.

Let’s use WordPress.com as an example. The WordPress.com website allows people to set up blogs on subdomains of WordPress. So, for example, there is a blog at http://vip.wordpress.com, and it is a completely different website from http://wordpress.com. It could have a different author or authors and be about a topic that has nothing to do with WordPress. In fact, WordPress.com has thousands of subdomains.

For example, you could set up your own real estate blog, for free, on a WordPress.com subdomain, like http://Find-Your-Dream-Home.wordpress.com or http://Best-Realtor-on-Planet-Earth.wordpress.com.

And what about http://www.wordpress.com? Would that be a duplicate? Well it would be, but that address doesn’t exist. There is no such place on the World Wide Web.

If you try to visit www.wordpress.com, with the www in the address, it will redirect you to the no-www version.

That’s because WordPress doesn’t want two versions of its website online. It understands that you need to choose one or the other, and it chose the non-www version. Personally, I prefer using the non-www version myself — but you need to pick one or the other.

Do you have 2 versions of your site?

The easiest way to check if you have two versions of your website is to simply try both addresses out in your browser. First try the version without the www. Does it redirect you to the www version? Good! You’re all set.

But if you find that you have two versions of your website — that either URL works — you need to pick one and get rid of the other! There are several ways to do this:

  • If you have a WordPress website, there are quite a few plugins that will force your site into the www or non-www mode. One is called .htaccess control, and I highly recommend it. Just install it through your WordPress dashboard and go to “settings.” Once there, you’ll see an option to “force” www or non-www. Bam! You no longer have duplicate content, and it took you all of 30 seconds!
  • Call your Web hosting company. Some make it very easy. I know that Dreamhost makes it very simple to force one address or the other through your domain hosting control panel. I’m sure other companies do, too. Just call customer support and tell them you want to forward the www version to the non-www version, or vice-versa, and let them walk you through. If the customer service rep tells you it’s not necessary, tell them they are wrong and you want it anyway.
  • Lastly, for advanced users, if you don’t have a WordPress website, and your hosting company can’t help you, then you will have to have FTP access to your website. (That is, you will need to be able to get to the area where your website files exist.)

The following sites will help you get rid or your “duplicate site,” depending on what kind of hosting you have: ASP (windows hosting) users should click here; and if you are using LINUX hosting, click here. (Most people have LINUX hosting nowadays.)

I hope this help!

(Matt Cutts recently spoke about the importance of this, so if you don’t believe me, read what he says about this very topic.)