You have the best product catalog, an impressive design, you advertise your products on Facebook and Google… but your shop still doesn’t show up when people search using your main keywords.
One factor that may be strongly affecting your positioning is duplicate content. Or in other words, having the same text (or part of it) multiple times on your website or other external sites.
How can you find out if your shop has duplicate content? And, more importantly, how can you get rid of it?
The first step is clear – read this post and then start putting everything we are explaining into practice.
What are you waiting for? ;)
👉 What is duplicate content and why is it detrimental to your shop’s SEO?
As we always do, let’s start with the definition:
Duplicate content happens when two (or more) different websites, either from the same domain or completely independent, have the same or very similar content.
What’s the problem?
If Google verifies that there’s duplicate content on your website, it can decide not to show it on the results page and we quite obviously don’t want that.
Problems arising from duplicate content on your website
Something that may seem as innocent as “I’m just going to copy this product description because I really don’t have time to write a new one” can end up causing many headaches (and not only related to SEO).
- Your positioning: as we said before, Google rejects this type of content and it doesn’t show it on the search results page because it considers “copied” content to be of little to no value. If you have too much duplicate content, Google can even penalize you.
- Differentiation problems: having duplicate content means being “just another shop.” You don’t differentiate yourself from your competitors, which can lead to a rather exhausting price war to get clients to choose you over other ecommerce shops.
- Legal implications: though it’s ignored in many cases, a lot of content is actually (legally) protected. If you copy it and the original author finds out, they could take legal action against you.
So now you may be thinking “well, I don’t have any problems because I’ve never copied anything from other brands.”
And therein lies the problem. Even if you didn’t notice, you may have duplicate content on your shop (but not the type you’re thinking of). Keep reading. ;)
👉 Different types of duplicate content
Many people think that duplicate content only happens when somebody copies part of a website or its content. However, and as we’ve already mentioned in the definition, that’s not the only situation that can occur.
✅ 1. Internal duplicate content
That’s to say, when you yourself duplicate your own content without being aware of the problems you are causing to your own SEO.
- Catalog similar to that of other shops: you’ve just opened your ecommerce and you fill in the product cards by copying definitions from other shops or directly from the supplier, therefore duplicating content.
- Repeated cards: when you have several identical products that only differ in terms of size or color, the product cards are probably identical.
You can avoid these mistakes by using the attributes options offered by your CMS platform and creating valuable content that is genuinely useful and original.
Have a look at what Joe & Sephs (a gourmet popcorn chef):
No other shop could ever use their descriptions without the plagiarism being obvious.
✅ 2. External duplicate content
When duplicate content appears because other websites copy you (unfortunately, plagiarism is all too common online).
It’s quite widespread within affiliate and dropshipping shops (such as Amazon or AliExpress) because they add products in bulk and the texts are identical for each point of sales.
✅ 3. Other types of duplicate content
Even if you’re careful with your content, duplicates may arise from technical issues, such as:
- Several versions of your domain: if your ecommerce works both with “www.” And without it, the content of the pages is duplicated.
- SSL encryption: the security protocol can also duplicate your content because you have the http and the https versions.
- Mobile content: your ecommerce should be responsive by now, but if it isn’t and instead generates a subdomain for the mobile version, you need to make sure it doesn’t create duplicate content.
- Product characteristics: it’s really common for online shops to generate extra URLs when filtering products by attribute. This creates URLs such as www.myshop.com/shoes?color=black&price-max=65, which create additional sites with duplicate content.
- The same website in several languages: if you target international markets and have the same text in different languages, you may also have problems with duplicate content.
Have a look at all these factors to make sure to reduce the duplicate content in your ecommerce as much as possible.
👉 How to detect duplicate content in your ecommerce
There are several tools to help you locate duplicate content on your website:
- Google Webmaster Tools (or Google Search Console): in the menu Search Apperance > HTML Improvements, you can revise duplicate meta tags for titles and descriptions on your website.
- SEO tools: such as SEMrush, SISTRIX, or Screaming Frog (they are all paid tools).
- Manually: type “site:” and then your domain into the address bar to check everything that Google has indexed and to make sure there’s no duplicate content.
In order to check if other websites have copied any of your content or text, you can use these tools:
Attention! This is important…
If you sell on marketplaces such as Amazon in addition to your ecommerce and copy all your descriptions, Google will penalize YOUR website, not Amazon, because one of the criteria to decide which one is the duplicate is popularity.
👉 Learn to fix duplicate content
Now that you know what duplicate content is, how to detect it, and how detrimental it is to your ecommerce, it’s time to solve the problem.
✅ 1. Write original product decriptions
Always avoid copying product cards from your suppliers or competitors and make an effort to create original descriptions that include your keywords.
Don’t know how?
Have a look at this post explaining how to write ecommerce product cards.
✅ 2. Establish a canonical URL
If you have several pages with similar or the same content but you want Google to understand that it only needs to pay attention to one, you need to use canonicalization of URLs.
A canonical URL is an html link with a tag that indicates which content should be given more importance on the SERP.
When you use canonical URL:
- Google doesn’t consider the content to be duplicate because you’re telling it which one is your main page – the master copy.
- You avoid keyword cannibalization.
- You reduce the penalization because the search engine doesn’t waste time deciding which of your pages is the most relevant one.
- You improve your organization of content and posts that you want to be shown on the SERP.
In order to do tell Google which one is your canonical URL…
You need to add a tag in the <head> section of the HTML of each subpage.
By doing this, only one canonical URL will be indexed, which means you avoid duplicate content and Google penalties.
Which page should you establish as the canonical URL?
Obviously, the one that has the best conversion rate.
✅ 3. Create a meta title and meta description for each product
And these title and description tags should also be unique for each product, just like the content of each card.
- Title: It’s your page’s title – the name that’s shown in blue on Google’s results page.
- Description: This is the “explanation” that is shown below the title and it’s a good idea to have a different one for each ecommerce product.
Working on titles and meta tags not only helps you avoid duplicate content, but it also increases your visibility on search pages.
✅ 4. Set up your 301 Redirect properly
Sometimes you may make mistakes and generate duplicate content because of silly things, like if you accidentally publish the same post twice.
In this case, you need to have just one URL, so the best idea is to redirect the “duplicate” URL to the original one.
What is redirection?
Redirection sends users to a different URL when they click on a link. For Google, redirecting is like merging two pieces of content into one.
✅ 5. Don’t copy content from others
Needless to say, because it’s obvious, if you don’t want duplicate content, don’t copy it intentionally.
Want to start a blog but you don’t know how?
Have a look at this post to learn about creating valuable content with content marketing.
Do you have duplicate content in your ecommerce?
Having some is inevitable, but acceptable. What’s not acceptable is having lots of product cards with the same definition.
If you don’t have time to fix the duplicates, hire a copywriter and update your website bit by bit.
Remember that good SEO means a steady flow of potential customers to your ecommerce… so don’t waste the opportunity. ;)