June 13, 2021

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Skillful Technology Connoisseurs

Duplicate Content is Not a Negative Ranking Factor

Google’s John Mueller clarifies a misconception about duplicate content, saying it’s not a negative search ranking factor.

Having the same content repeated across multiple pages is not something that would cause a site to rank lower in search results.

Mueller says it’s normal for sites to have a certain amount of duplicate content. Google’s algorithms are built to handle it.

He touched on this topic last week, but it’s brought up again during this week’s Google Search Central SEO office-hours.

Duplicate content is a topic that regularly comes up amongst SEOs, and it’s something many practitioners check for when auditing a site.

Does it impact search rankings? If yes – to what degree?

That’s what Davor Bobek, Manager at Blue Glacier, asks Mueller during this week’s office-hours.

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Bobek owns a site about car parts where descriptions of parts are repeated in multiple places. He wants to know if there will be a negative impact in search results.

See Mueller’s response below.

Google’s John Mueller on Duplicate Content

Mueller clears up the misunderstanding of duplicate content, saying it’s not something that has a negative ranking score associated with it.

If entire pieces of content on a site are duplicated then Google will rank one and not show the other. Multiple copies of the same page does not send negative ranking signals.

Duplicate pages can bloat a site and eat up crawl budget, but that’s a whole other topic which is not discussed in this video.

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If sections of content are repeated throughout a site, such as content in the header or footer, Mueller confirms it will not send negative ranking signals either.

“With that kind of duplicate content it’s not so much that there’s a negative score associated with it. It’s more that, if we find exactly the same information on multiple pages on the web, and someone searches specifically for that piece of information, then we’ll try to find the best matching page.

So if you have the same content on multiple pages then we won’t show all of these pages. We’ll try to pick one of them and show that. So it’s not that there’s any negative signal associated with that. In a lot of cases that’s kind of normal that you have some amount of shared content across some of the pages.”

To illustrate how normal duplicate content can be, Mueller goes on to give examples that people run into all the time.

Online shopping is a vertical where content is repeated everywhere. It’s common for retailers to sell the same product, and the product pages likely share a large amount of the same content.

Google isn’t going to interpret negative signals from crawling a product description that appears elsewhere on another retailer’s site.

Website footers technically qualify as duplicate content, Mueller says, but that’s not a problem when it comes to search rankings either.

“A really common case for example is with ecommerce. If you have a product, and someone else is selling the same product, or within a website maybe you have a footer that you share across all of your pages and sometimes that’s a pretty big footer. Technically that’s duplicate content but we can kind of deal with that. So that shouldn’t be a problem.”

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Hear the full discussion in the video below: