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Duplicate Content: The Complete Guide to Find and Fix it in 2024


Duplicate content refers to any content that appears on the web in an identical or near-identical form across multiple pages or websites. It typically occurs when the same content is published on different URLs, often unintentionally.

There are a few main reasons duplicate content happens:

  • Publishing the same article or page on multiple domains owned by the same person or company. For example, if you have the same "About Us" page on yourcompany.com, yourcompany.net, and yourcompany.org.
  • Scraping or copying content from other sites and republishing as your own. This is a tactic some use to try to quickly populate a site with content.
  • Republishing existing content without making significant updates or changes. For example, posting the same press release across multiple pages of your site.
  • Generating thin pages optimized just for specific keywords by repeating related keywords but with little unique content.

The main types of duplicate content include:

  • Full duplicate pages - Identical or near-identical pages with the same content published on different URLs.
  • Thin content - Pages with little unique content, often over-optimized for specific keywords.
  • Scraped or stolen content - Copying content from other sites without adding original information.
  • Republished content - Posting the same press release, product description, etc., multiple times on a site.
  • Auto-generated pages - Identical or near-identical pages created automatically without unique content.

Identifying and dealing with duplicate content is important for both users and search engines. The goal is to have every page provide a unique, high-quality experience.

Why Duplicate Content is a Problem

Duplicate content can pose several issues for your website and business. Here are some of the main problems it causes:

  • Search Engine Penalties - Search engines like Google want to provide users with the most relevant and original content on any given topic. When they detect duplicate or copied content, it raises flags that the content may not be unique or authoritative. This could lead to search engine penalties like lower rankings, removal from search results, or even manual spam actions from Google. Having large amounts of duplicate content essentially dilutes the value of your site in Google's eyes.
  • Poor User Experience - From a visitor perspective, encountering duplicate content across multiple pages feels frustrating and spammy. Users want to read high-quality original information that provides value. Seeing repetitious or copied content forces them to sift through low-value pages to find what they really need. This leads to higher bounce rates and lack of engagement. Visitors may even leave your site to find unique content elsewhere. Providing original content tailored to each page demonstrates authority and improves user satisfaction.
  • Revenue Loss - With reduced organic visibility and lower engagement comes a loss of traffic and revenue. Lower search rankings mean fewer visits and sales. Unhappy visitors who bounce quickly cut short any chance of conversion. Ultimately duplicate content costs you money in the long run if left unchecked.

In order to maintain a successful website, it is important to identify and fix duplicate content. Duplicate content can negatively impact your content marketing strategy, user experience, and business revenue.

How to Find Duplicate Content

The first step in managing duplicate content is to actually find it on your website. There are a few ways you can uncover and identify duplicate or thin pages that need to be fixed.

Site Audit Tools

Specialized site audit tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, and SEMRush crawl your site and identify issues directly in their interface. Their duplicate content report will show you pages that have the same or very similar content, as well as the overlap percentage, so you can identify the worst offenders. These tools also note thin pages lacking unique content.

You can adjust the sensitivity settings in site auditors to hone in on duplicates above a certain overlap threshold, like 50% or 80%. Review the tool's duplicate content report, flagging pages that need to be addressed. Exporting the list can help you systematically work through optimizing each one.

Search Engine Tools

Google and Bing both have webmaster tools that allow you to enter a URL and see if they've identified any duplicate content issues on your page. Their algorithms analyze page content and determine if it's too similar to another page, then flag it accordingly.

While Google and Bing likely won't identify every duplicate issue, their results can pinpoint some problem pages on your site. You can then take their feedback as suggestions for what to optimize.

Plagiarism Checkers

Online plagiarism checker tools like Copyscape and Plagiarisma allow you to enter your page URL or content excerpt and scan the web to identify if it appears elsewhere. The percentage of content overlap will be shown so you can evaluate if it's flagged as duplicate.

Running plagiarism checks on your important site pages provides assurance that their content remains unique. If another site is copying your content, you'll be alerted and can take action to have it removed.

Fixing Thin Content

Thin content refers to pages or articles that are extremely low quality, lacking useful information, substance, and original insight. Oftentimes, thin content is a result of over-optimization for keywords or trying to increase the total number of pages on a site. This can not only deliver a poor user experience but also risks getting penalized by search engines.

Fixing thin content requires a multi-pronged strategy:

  • Conduct an audit of all site pages and flag thin content: Review site content across the board and identify pages that are low quality, repetitive, or add little value. Keep track of URLs to revisit.
  • Expand and enhance the content: For thin pages worth keeping, rewrite and add useful information and analysis. Aim for at least 300 words or more of substantive content. Convert into a meaningful article by researching the topic in-depth, getting expert opinions, adding images/graphics, etc.
  • Remove or rewrite overly promotional content: If the page is mainly repetitive sales language without real information, consider removing or reworking it. Focus on providing genuine value to readers over promotion.
  • Add multimedia: Enhance pages with images, infographics, video and audio clips to make the content more engaging while expanding page size. Ensure multimedia directly supports the topic.
  • Interlink related content: Connect thin pages to other useful content through internal links. This can increase page depth while keeping readers engaged in helpful information within your site.
  • Merge similar pages: If you have multiple thin pages around the same topic, consider consolidating the information into one comprehensive resource page for a stronger user experience.
  • Cite external resources: References or links to reputable external sources can also add more helpful context and page length. Just ensure the majority of the content remains your original analysis.

With enough strategic enhancements centered around value, thin content can be transformed into robust pages that both satisfy readers and steer clear of duplicity penalties. The key is to make the content stand well on its own through quality writing and research.

Rewriting Duplicate Pages

Manually rewriting duplicate pages is the best way to fix them while keeping the pages indexed. This ensures you keep the SEO value while making the pages unique.

Manual Rewrite

Completely rewrite each duplicate page by hand. Keep the core topic the same but change the wording, structure, details, examples and data. Make sure to add fresh information so the new version stands out. This takes more time and effort but results in much higher quality.

Automated Tools

Tools like grammarly, quillbot, wordai and spinnerchief can automate rewriting content. Set them to rewrite at high settings to completely change the wording. Then manually review and edit the output to fix awkward phrases. This speeds up rewriting but requires reviewing to maintain quality.


Avoid simply spinning duplicate pages by swapping synonyms. This results in low-quality content that's easy to identify as spun. Only use spinning as a starting point before heavy editing. High-quality hand rewriting is better than basic spinning.

Dealing with Scraped or Stolen Content

Scraped or stolen content refers to when someone copies your original content and republishes it on their own site, often without permission or attribution. This duplicate content appearing on other sites can hurt your search engine rankings and traffic. Here's how to deal with scraped or stolen content:

Detecting Scraped or Stolen Content

  • Use search engines to look for snippets of text from your pages published elsewhere. Put unique phrases in quotes to find exact matches.
  • Use Copyscape or similar duplicate content checkers to find copies of your pages online.
  • Check competitor and shady sites in your niche, as these commonly scrape content.
  • Use reverse image search on any images you created to see if others are using them.
  • Check the footers of suspect pages for attribution or lack thereof.

Getting Scraped Content Removed

  • Contact the webmaster of the offending site to request removing your content, pointing out it is duplicated.
  • File a DMCA takedown notice if they refuse and you own the copyright on the content.
  • Report scrapped content to Google using their legal removal request page so they will de-index the duplicate copy.

Legal Options

  • Consult a lawyer about sending cease and desist letters to persistent offenders who won't remove your content.
  • Take legal action if warranted against sites that repeatedly steal your content despite requests.
  • Register your website content with the US Copyright Office to make your copyright ownership official.

Canonical Tags for Organizing Content

Canonical tags allow you to indicate to search engines which page you want to appear in search results when you have similar or duplicate content on multiple pages.

Using Canonical Tags

A canonical tag is an HTML tag you can add to your pages to specify the "canonical" or "preferred" URL that you want search engines to index and rank. The tag looks like this:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/page-to-index"/>

You would add this tag to the <head> section of web pages.

What Canonical Tags Do

Canonical tags tell search engines "This page is the same content as the URL in the canonical tag. Please only index and rank the URL in the tag."

This prevents duplicate content issues where search engines index multiple copies of the same or very similar content. The canonical tag consolidates the equity of those pages onto one preferred URL.


To implement canonical tags:

  • Decide which URL you want search engines to index for a group of similar/duplicate pages. This should typically be the most appropriate or comprehensive version.
  • Add the <link rel="canonical" href="desired-url"> tag to the <head> of the other duplicate pages, pointing to the main URL you want indexed.
  • You can also add a self-referential canonical tag to the main URL, e.g. <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/page-to-index"> to reinforce it as the preferred version.
  • Submit all URLs to search engines through sitemaps or crawling. The pages with canonical tags will be consolidated under the target URL.
  • Monitor search performance to ensure canonicalization is working as expected. Adjust tags if needed.

Properly implementing canonical tags helps organize duplicate or similar content under one URL, improving SEO and preventing content cannibalization.

Redirects for Duplicate URLs

Using proper redirects is one of the key ways to deal with duplicate content issues. When you have multiple pages or URLs that contain the same or very similar content, you'll want to redirect them to a single canonical page. This helps search engines know which page to index and rank for that content.

The preferred redirect to use in these cases is a 301 permanent redirect. 301s pass on link equity and signal to the redirected page. This helps keep the SEO value while consolidating content.

To implement 301 redirects:

  • Identify duplicate URLs you want to redirect using a tool like Screaming Frog or Google Search Console. Look for the same or very similar content.
  • Decide on a single target URL to redirect them all to. This should be the most authoritative source, like the URL with the most links/shares.
  • Use your CMS, web server, or .htaccess file to create 301 redirects from each duplicate URL to the target URL.
  • Double-check that the redirects are working by visiting the old URLs.
  • Update internal links pointing to the old URLs to now point to the target URL.
  • Submit new sitemaps containing just the target URLs.
  • Monitor redirects periodically to ensure they remain in place.

When setting up 301 redirects, it's important to properly map them from old to new. For example, redirect:

  • com/page.html => example.com/new-page
  • com/folder/page.html => example.com/new-folder/new-page

This keeps the redirect structure intact and passes value appropriately. Correct redirect mapping is key for successful duplicate content consolidation.

Avoiding Duplicate Content in the Future

With the right content strategy and publishing processes in place, you can prevent most duplicate content issues before they start. Here are some tips for keeping duplicate content to a minimum going forward:

  • Have a centralized content calendar and editorial calendar. This allows you to map out all the content you plan to produce and spot potential overlaps early. Look for similar topics or angles covered close together.
  • Establish a clear governance model. Appoint content owners for different sections of your site to oversee content planning and publishing. Ensure there is accountability for duplicate content.
  • Document content guidelines. Create content policies, protocols, and checklists to standardize your content development process. Include specific guidelines around repurposing and reusing content.
  • Audit existing content regularly. Conduct regular duplicate content audits using tools like Google Search Console to identify issues quickly. Stay on top of problems through ongoing monitoring.
  • Limit access to publishing. Reduce duplicate content risks by limiting publishing access to trained editors who follow your content governance model. Don't allow multiple authors to freely publish to your site.
  • Coordinate across departments and locations. Foster strong communication between teams, offices, and subject matter experts to align content efforts company-wide.
  • Consolidate around a CMS. Maintain all your content in one CMS to keep better control over content reuse and repurposing. Make sure edits synchronize across versions.
  • Implement redirection. Redirect legacy URLs to updated or consolidated content to avoid duplicating pages. Use 301 redirects for SEO.
  • Add new content to existing pages. Expand on existing content pages/articles rather than creating new pages on the same topics. Link new content to old.

With smart content strategy and governance, you can create, edit, and publish content efficiently while avoiding duplicate issues.

Duplicate Content Examples

There are a few common forms of duplicate content to watch out for

Thin Pages

Thin pages contain very little unique content. For example, a product page with just a title, price, and generic description copied from the manufacturer would be considered thin content. Thin pages should be expanded into more robust, valuable pages with additional details, images, analysis, etc.

Scraped Content

Some sites will scrape content from other sources and republish it verbatim without adding any new information. This entirely duplicated content should be rewritten or removed.

Repurposed Content

Repurposing existing content by making minor changes or rearranging it can also create duplicate content issues. For instance, publishing the same blog post across different sites or simply rewording an existing article may not provide enough unique value. Repurposed content should be substantially expanded upon.

Example Scenarios

  • Product pages on an ecommerce site that only contain basic specs and descriptions duplicated from the manufacturer.
  • Blog posts or articles that have been entirely copied from another website.
  • A press release that has been lightly edited and republished as an article.
  • The same piece of content is published on multiple domains or sites you own.

Duplicate content takes many forms, but the key is identifying thin, repurposed, or copied content and improving it with original research and writing.


In wrapping up, battling duplicate content isn't just a tech challenge – it's the frontline of your website's success! Visualize your content as a superhero battling against duplicate demons that could potentially harm your SEO rankings, user experience, and business revenue.

But fear not! With the Cogniter SEO services, consider yourself armed with the ultimate sidekick. We don't just fix duplicate content issues; we transform your website into a powerhouse of uniqueness, ensuring it stands out in the digital universe. Ready for top-level SEO? Embrace Cogniter and let your content shine!

Posted By Anita at

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