How To Avoid Google’s Duplicate Content Penalty

Achieving top SEO rankings for competitive keyword phrases is one of the most valuable and most difficult marketing goals to achieve. While there are many SEO strategies you need to implement to achieve top rankings, there are also many pitfalls you need to avoid at the same time. One of those pitfalls is duplicate content.

Duplicate content is a phrase coined by Google that refers to the same content (ie wording) being used across multiple websites and / or pages on the Internet. The content may be exactly the same or it may be slightly different (ie 10%) but is seen as the same by Google.

Over the years the response by Google to websites or web pages it deems to have duplicate content is referred to as ‘duplicate content penalties’. Duplicate content can be intentional or unintentional in nature, but the effects are usually the same:

  • Your web page(s) being removed from Google’s main index and placed in their secondary or ‘supplemental’ index, which does not usually form part of their search engine results.
  • The ownership of your content being assigned to websites that have copied your content but are seen by Google to have higher authority than your website.
  • Less of your pages being indexed and ranked by Google, resulting in a decrease in authority, a loss of on-site SEO value and lower traffic volumes and sales as a result.
  • And worst of all, as a result of all of the above, your site slowly losing all of its rankings and falling off the first page of Google for all of your keyword phrases.

The good news is that duplicate content issues can be resolved relatively quickly with a better understanding of how duplicate content can occur and some hard work in fixing the issues causing it.

What Causes Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content can be caused quite easily if you don’t know what causes it. Here is a list of reasons why you might be suffering from duplicate content penalties:

  • The same wording used on a number of different pages on your site
  • The same Title Tags used on a number of different pages on your site
  • Too much coding on your site compared to the actual wording (ie content) on the page
  • Not enough wording on each page, especially on ecommerce category and product pages which use a content management system (CMS)
  • CMS templates which use too much wording as part of the main template (eg copyright text in the footer)
  • New content on your website not being indexed fast enough by Google
  • Having printer-friendly or PDF versions of your web pages
  • Canonical issues caused by the same page on your website accessible through mutliple URLs (eg,,
  • The type of CMS you use and how it treats your content (eg WordPress blogs show the same article in multiple locations by default)
  • Higher authority websites copying your content without linking back to you
  • Using the same wording across many of your sites (eg regional sites such as, etc)
  • Affiliates using your website content for their own websites

How to Fix Duplicate Content Issues

The main cause of duplicate content is always the same – the same content being accessible at more than one web page location. Here is a list of solutions for fixing duplicate content issues:

  • Ensure that every page on your website has different title tags
  • Ensure that the wording on each page of your website is different from every other page
  • Ensure that you have a minimum of 300 to 500 words of unique content on every page on your website (this is especially true for ecommerce category and product pages)
  • Increase the authority of your website through content creation and link building
  • Get ownership of your new content assigned to your website quickly (ie indexed by Google) by adding new content regularly
  • Fix canonical issues using 301 redirects and canonical meta tags
  • Improve the internal linking structure of your website to maximise PageRank, authority and make it easy for Google’s spiders to find new content
  • Rewrite the content of your website if you are replicating it in different countries
  • Use the Evermore plugin for WordPress blogs so the full post only appears in one location
  • Ensure that any syndicated content from your website includes a link back to you
  • Do not copy content from other websites

Implementing these solutions will solve the majority of your duplicate content issues but remember that every website and every server is different and may require a customised solution.

Have you been the victim of Google’s duplicate content penalty?

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits

Alex Cleanthous is Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits. With more than 10 years experience in online marketing, Alex is always on the lookout for smarter, faster and more scalable ways to achieve maximum growth with minimum spend.


  1. Scott G Fraser Bargain Online Shopping says:

    Thanks for the insight into Duplicate content! A great Blog especialy for someone learning SEO and launching a website!

    October 20th, 2009 at 9:55 am

  2. SEO Concepts Blog says:

    That’s a great analysed post for avoiding duplicate content penalty.

    Keep posting

    October 20th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

  3. Melissa says:

    I very much appreciated your writings and sharing your thoughts to everyone. I expect more articles to read for the next time.

    Noah Group

    October 26th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

  4. Baby Alexa says:

    Thanks for this informative article but how do I know if I have been penalized by duplicating contents from my other website page? I am not sure if I have one but I want to know about it.

    October 26th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

  5. michael says:

    Thank you so much. It is really straight forward article and particularly how to fix duplication.I am still a bit unsure would it be a duplicate content if some text is repeated on two own sites with the different domains? I would really appreciate that answer.

    October 29th, 2009 at 8:32 pm

  6. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Michael,

    It depends how much text is duplicated on the two sites. The closer the content of each site matches the other, the higher the risk of one of those sites being seen as duplicate content.

    If you own both websites it would be best to completely rewrite each website independently of one another. This is the best way of ensuring your sites get maximum SEO value.

    Using the same snippets of information on both sites is fine, so long as there is a significant amount of unique content on each site.


    October 30th, 2009 at 7:12 am

  7. Kris Olin says:

    This is a good article! I was just wondering about the possible negative effects on having automatic updates from you blog to your Facebook account for instance. This would count as duplicate contents as well wouldn’t it?
    – Kris

    November 10th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

  8. Phil says:

    A good artical, but what if someone copies your articals that are unique. Could yours could then be clasiffied as duplicate content?

    November 26th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  9. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Kris,

    Having automatic updates from your blog to your Facebook is usually fine because Facebook (or Twitter) only takes a snippet of information from the blog and then links back to the blog for the full article.

    As long as there is a link back to the original source (ie your blog) then you want have any duplicate content issues.



    November 27th, 2009 at 8:01 am

  10. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Phil,

    Duplicate content issues that arise from other sites copying your content are an issue of authority and indexing.

    If your site has authority and is being indexed frequently, any article posted on your blog will be indexed and ownership attributed to your site right away.

    The problem arises when your own site has low authority and is not being indexed quickly. If another site with more authority than yours copies your content without linking back to you then your site may be seen as the duplicate, even though you are the original author.

    The best way to build up your own authority is to post articles to your blog frequently (ie once per week or fortnight) and then build exposure to those articles with social bookmarking and article marketing.



    November 27th, 2009 at 8:05 am

  11. Angel says:

    What if I have a main blog and then a sub category blog on two different domains and I substitute a lot of different words in the post. Should I rewrite those posts completely or can I substitute a lot of the words?

    ie: main blog posts daily. category blog posts twice a week. There are 3 subcategory blogs that handle the content of the main blog but change it through out the post.

    Is this possible?


    January 12th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

  12. Phil says:

    Hi have found duplicate content on my website.
    i have re-written all the articals and have also have increased my backlinks from web 2.0 pages.
    I find that the original duplicate content pages are still be showing in googles index. How do I stop this and get thenm to index the newly created pages

    January 19th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

  13. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Angel,

    You should always rewrite the wording of each blog, rather than just substituting words.

    And when you are writing a blog you should be writing for humans, not the search engines.

    Importantly, why are you writing the same content on 3 different blogs? If the content is the same, it would be far better to manage a single blog and focus on all your time and effort on writing the best possible articles you can.



    January 25th, 2010 at 10:03 am

  14. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Phil,

    To answer your question I really need more information about which pages you have rewritten and what you did with the old pages.

    If all the pages you are referring to are on your own website, then you would probably need to setup a 301 redirect from the old pages to the new pages.

    If not, then I would need more information to provide an accurate answer.



    January 25th, 2010 at 10:06 am

  15. Antonio says:


    I have a question: if someone is deliberately copying original content from my blog to their own, what kind of penalty am I facing? This person is so lame copying that he even copies all the internal links that I included in the post, i.e., links to my own other and previous posts in my blog..

    What should I do?
    Thanks, regards

    March 7th, 2010 at 7:36 am

  16. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Antonio,

    The only time that somebody copying your content is an issue is when their website has more authority than yours (ie. a higher PageRank than yours).

    What you’ll probably find is that sites copying content from you will usually have a lower PageRank than yours because they haven’t taken the time to create quality content or build quality links to their site.

    Saying that, if somebody links to your site from theirs, then duplicate content will not be an issue for your website as Google will treat their page as a reference (ie. duplicate) of the unique material on your site.

    Hope this helps.


    March 8th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

  17. janet says:

    Hello Alex,
    enjoyed reading all the comments,every little bit helps


    April 16th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

  18. Utah carpenter says:

    Does posting your blog articles on the article sites hurt you? Is there an easy way to rewrite your articles and how much different do they need to be? I love your site and your podcast. I listen to it often on my Blackberry.

    May 14th, 2010 at 1:27 am

  19. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Posting your blog articles on the article directories won’t hurt your site so long as you wait for the article to be indexed on your blog first.

    To check whether an article has been indexed on your blog, conduct a search for the article title in quotation marks – when the article on your blog has been indexed you should see your site ranking for the search phrase.


    May 14th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  20. Vietnam says:

    It is perfect post. this can help people to avoi from a trap . Thanks for your post

    July 18th, 2010 at 6:37 am