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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

URLs with similar content

It has come to our attention that a particular URL is exhibiting considerable similarity in its HTML content when compared to at least one other URL that can be indexed.

Why is this important?

Sometimes known as 'near duplicate content', this situation arises when the majority of the HTML content across pages is uniform, albeit the overall content isn't an exact match.

Listings with high levels of content resemblance that are accessible to search engine crawlers can pose quite a serious problem.

When such extensive duplication is present across a site, it risks setting off quality filters such as Google's Panda algorithm, potentially undermining the site's organic search visibility.

What does the Optimization check?

Our Optimization is set off by any internal, indexable URL that shares substantial text content in the <body> element with another URL that's also indexable.

Note: This check for duplicate content is confined to indexable URLs; canonicalized URLs are excluded from this process as the canonical link element addresses duplication.

Examples that trigger this Optimization:

Interestingly, a number of our own guidelines on the Loud Interactive website activate this Optimization - when these guidelines themselves review significantly similar aspects, the respective 'Learn More' pages naturally display high congruence. For instance, our recommendations for 'Avoid excessive DOM depth' and 'Avoid excessive DOM width' may activate the Optimization due to overlapping content sections, as shown in the hypothetical example.

<a href="/hints/performance/limit-dom-depth/">Limit DOM depth</a> and <a href="/hints/performance/limit-dom-width/">Limit DOM width</a>

How do you resolve this issue?

The impact of duplicate content is proportional to its breadth. For a handful of page overlaps, the effect is typically negligible. For instance, overlapping content within our own guidelines pages isn't alarming due to the limited scope and their non-critical nature in terms of search or conversions.

Large-scale duplication could conceivably prompt an algorithm like Panda to take action.

Duplicate content is frequently seen in landing pages targeting slight keyword variations, where textual content remains unchanged barring minor product image variations. Such content is generally not favored by SEO practices; search engines are likely to exclude it from search results on account of similarity. When facing such issues, the ideal resolution involves consolidating the content into a singular, distinct page that can organically rank for multiple related keywords.

Another common scenario involves identical page content accessible through different pathways on a site. Taking a hypothetical outdoor retail store, a pocket torch product page might be found under various categories like 'Torches', 'Camping', or 'Travel'. One should determine a canonical path – perhaps 'Torches' – and apply canonical tags to the pages under the 'Camping' and 'Travel' categories to resolve redundant accessibility. Canonical tags are a strategic solution for such duplication dilemmas.

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