Content is super important for SEO as it improves your visibility on search engines which in turn drives traffic to your website. However, duplicate content can harm your SEO efforts due to the confusion it causes Google. Read more below!
Why duplicating content between two different domains is bad for SEO
Google has always made it very clear that content is the primary ranking factor for SEO, and that creating unique and valuable content is the most important thing you can do for improved SEO performance.
Why? Google will reward websites that show that they are experts within their field/industry and demonstrate this by creating quality content that is related to their niche, and content that is ‘better’ (in Google’s eyes) than their competitors.
It is very easy to ‘copy’ someone's website content, and this means that spammy/untrustworthy businesses can utilise this to trick people and Google into thinking they are experts.
The ‘Panda' update
In fact, all the way back in 2011, Google introduced an update to identify websites that stole content from other websites. This update was called ‘Panda’, and is still part of Google Core Algorithm Updates that refresh multiple times every year, even now.
That is why, even today in 2021, you still do not want to duplicate content that exists on another website as it will result in reduced SEO rankings for webpages that contain duplicated content.
How does Google identify duplicate content?
Very simply, if Google discovers that two websites contain the same content, it will determine who created the content first.
It does this by looking at the date it was first indexed/crawled, and also the relative domain authority of the two websites; meaning the site with the bigger domain authority may be seen as the ‘creator’ of the content.
It is not entirely clear exactly what importance Google places on both of those metrics, but ultimately you do not want to be in this situation with any websites you control.
What impact can it have?
If Google identifies your website as containing content that has been copied/stolen from elsewhere, then your website will not rank for that content as well as it should do, or possibly not rank at all. The originating website of the content will rank, instead. It is not a case of both websites ranking as well as each other.
By duplicating content across two websites you are severely impacting the SEO performance of at least one website. However, we have even seen instances where both websites are impacted negatively (most notably, in cases where the level of duplications between the two websites was very high).
How to resolve
Fortunately, the resolution is very simple - but that doesn’t mean it’s quick and easy! You simply need to rewrite the content for the website that ‘stole’ the copy originally. This will ensure that this website will be seen as having unique content, and will rank according to its own merits.
Another tactic you can employ is to completely remove the ‘offending’ pages and redirect them to the website pages where the content was hosted originally.