Avoiding Duplicate Content Penalties

Since February 2011 there has been a battle going on between the content of your websites and Panda; not the giant southeast Asian bear known for its cuteness, but Google’s new organic search algorithm for reducing spam in their search index and improving results.  With each subsequent update to Panda, Google has become increasingly stricter on anything that resembles SEO black hat techniques, such as keyword stuffing, duplicate website content and links to any other sites that might be using such tactics.

Unfortunately, when Google fires up its web crawlers and they begin their web site search, anything that looks remotely like any of these illegal tactics is automatically marked, whether an innocent mistake or not.  Duplicate website content is an excellent example of the flaws in Google Panda’s algorithms.  The idea being duplicate content is simple enough; some people will create articles for their site that are virtually identical with only the keywords changing slightly.  This is a black hat tactic to trick search engines into increasing their rankings.  However, there are plenty of examples where duplication is not malicious.

Duplication is common if you have a website or discussion forum that employs alternate mobile themes for access from your phone or tablet.  Having documents or content on your site that has printer-friendly version can also be flagged by Panda.  E-commerce sites have also proved to be confusing for Google’s algorithm, because if you have several ways to link to the same product or similar products, Panda will flag you.

There are several ways that you can keep yourself from being burdened with a warning of content duplication.  The most important thing you can do is to go through your site and make sure that each page has original content.  If two seem similar to you, expand the content in each or combine them into one page.  For e-commerce and pages with multiple themes, make sure that your website is up to date and think about installing some new SEO plugins that will help re-label your links so that Panda will not get confused.  If you want to do it yourself, look into trying to canonicalizing your URL’s.

Be sure to cover every inch of your website to make sure that it is duplicate free, in URL’s and content, because when Google Panda does a web site search, it does not hold back.

  Remember it is always better to be safe than sorry.

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