Duplicate Content Warning Issued By Google

The Google Webmaster Trends analyst, John Mueller, recently talked about duplicate content confusion on twitter. His words also clarified regarding what doesn’t qualify as duplicate content. According to Mueller, it doesn’t matter if your domain name ends with a forward slash or not. It means that Google doesn’t see ‘www.example.com/’ and ‘www.example.com’ as duplicate content.

On the other hand, file names do have this issue. It really matters if there is a forward slash at the end of the extended directory of a website. For instance, Google is going to see ‘example.com/fish’ and ‘example.com/fish/’ as duplicate content. Therefore, if the real address is ‘example.com/fish/’, then your server should redirect /fish to /fish/.

Different protocols

The scenario in which the duplicate content issue becomes real is associated with the different protocols. As described by Mueller, if you write the same URL using different protocols on different instances, Google sees that those pages as duplicate content. For instance, https://www.example.com is going to be seen quite differently than http://www.example.com. So, if you are dealing with this issue using a 301 redirect, you have got nothing to worry about. But if there isn’t any redirect, you have got a problem to look at.

Competitors can confuse Google

Sometimes, people try to get the links indexed using different protocol. For instance, if a page is not using SSL certificate and a competitor uses HTTPS prior to this address, Google may start to see it as duplicate page problem. Now there is a necessity to make sure that redirects are placed to handle the requests with different protocols. And the server should also be capable to return “site can’t be reached” error when URL with different certificate is entered. If these things are not taken care of and the competitor uses different protocol to create links, it is going to be the major problem.

Protecting your site from getting a duplicate warning

It becomes extremely important to avoid duplicate warning issue in the above mentioned circumstances. So, there are a few things that you can do in this regard.

  • You can start by defining the canonical tags. Canonical tags basically tell the Google which version is the correct one.
  • Make sure that you have placed redirects to handle requests using different protocols. Test the server to confirm the functionality.
  • Audit the URLs by checking for ‘duplicate’ or ‘page not found’ errors. There are paid and free tools available to help in URL auditing.
  • Beware of 404 errors. To check the number and instances of errors, look at the server logs or track through Google analytics.

Remember, it has got more important now to keep an eye on the content duplication errors after Google’s announcement. Although, you may be working hard to create unique and high quality content, you still need to pay attention to the technical aspects in order to make sure that you are not getting warnings just because someone is not entering the correct URLs.