If you are a blogger or own a website, chances are that you have heard about WordPress. Not only does this platform offer plug-and-play capability for businesses and professionals, but it automatically incorporates efficient ways to optimize the performance of a website.
However, all these conveniences come attached with an unprecedented problem: content duplication. There are instances on WordPress that lead to web pages creating copies of themselves. It increases server load, and worse – it has the potential to confuse Google search algorithms when crawling your website. In fact, data shows that about 25-30% of the content on the World Wide web is duplicate!
How, then, do you deal with this problem? The ideal solution is to hire a WordPress expert to handle things for you. Here is an overview of the content duplicity issue of WordPress.
Why Does Content Duplicity Occur?
Content duplicity is an inadvertent incident as opposed to ‘duplicate content’. While the latter is intentional and probably an exact copy of some other content, the former occurs because of a website’s internal attributes and URLs.
The most common type of duplicity in content occurs because of tags. While tags are a good tool to sort your website based on the subject matter of the content, it potentially creates copies of webpages that tend to throw Google’s crawlers off. Using tags creates unique pages that contain content that is similar in nature, has the same keywords and an individual URL. Google’s bots are unable to identify this page as part of your website (they see it as a different page altogether with duplicate content), thus pitching it in competition. Resultantly, your website doesn’t rank as high as it should.
While CMS isn’t at fault here, and while there is only one true URL with a particular article on your website, the structural properties of the website just allow that article to be accessed using different URLs. Here are a few more causes of content duplicity that may be messing with your website rankings.
Session IDs are a familiar term with eCommerce websites. In order to deliver a more personalized experience to shoppers, eCommerce websites often store customer activity and preferences (like items in the shopping bag) – this is called a “Session ID”. Since browsers do not store session IDs, the website asks user permission to store “cookies” – this essentially refers to creating a unique session ID with your behavior on that website appended to the web page URL.
While the customer does get to come back to the e-store exactly the way he left it, session IDs create duplicate web pages of the same URL for each individual customer. Now, that’s a lot of duplication!
Content Syndication and Scraping
Content syndication has become a hot trend today. In fact, figures show that a good mix of marketing content contains 10% text from a syndicate. But what is content syndication? If you are familiar with republishing, there are quite a few websites out there that, by permission, reproduce articles from other sources and backlink to them. This is an example of syndicated content. There is massive benefit to the original content creator in syndicating it with permission to republishing platforms as it brings in more traffic. However, republishing creates a new URL to the same content – thus, duplicity.
Now we know that syndication is a more organic way to reproduce somebody’s content somewhere else. However, there exists an unethical way to do this too, which is referred to as “content scraping”. If you have ever come across a website that asked you whether or not you were a bot, chances are that that website is trying to protect itself from falling victim to content scraping. It is a method wherein a bot “scrapes” or downloads all of a website’s content within moments and adds it to another website. The purpose is to steal away its SEO. This is another reason that content duplicity is a problem.
You often see a comments section below every article on WordPress. As the number of comments starts to increase, scrolling becomes a bit of a task – which tempts you to create several “pages” of comments, making it easier on the eyes. It does make navigating through the comments simpler; however, it ends up creating multiple URLs with the same article – with only the comments that are different. This is a whole new kind of duplicity issue in WordPress.
Dealing With The Duplicity Dilemma
The only efficient way to deal with content duplicity on WordPress is to prevent it from ever happening. However, since not all websites practice this from the ground up, here are a few other solutions you can employ to smoothen things out a bit without compromising much on the SERP rankings.
Establish a structure of creating URLs that are unique to the property and level. For example, a post must never have the same URL or name as the web page. Dedicate patterns or attributes to naming your posts that are distinct from how you treat your web pages. This should help your website in being consistent with the URLs generated, keeping things separate.
This is, by far, the most commonly used method to deal with duplicate content. When Google bots cannot differentiate between the original URL and a duplicated one, they look for the canonical attribute, which tells them the source apart from its copies. You can set the canonical tag for your original posts internally.
Backlinking to The Original
Another way to deal with duplicity is embedding the link to the original article on pages where copies exist. This way, when crawlers index a site, they are able to “see” where the content actually originated from.
Fixing Technical Issues
Technicals of a website like printer-friendly layouts, link tracking parameters and prefix (www/non-www) URL issues among others can be fixed with the help of professionals.
Content duplicity is unintentional, and in some cases, unavoidable too. However, this shouldn’t stop you from ranking near the top in search results. Use this information to fix up duplicity issues on your website if you are facing any.
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