Know the good and bad ways of removing duplicate content

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Google considers it appropriate to give the poor rating to copied content which is almost a replica of the main content in full or part. It does not provide any value for users nor requires any effort and time to accomplish the task. The act of copying seems so much offensive that Google does not stop from awarding the lowest rank to copied content even if the page assigns credit for the content to some other source.

Duplicate content is different from copied content

It is worth noting that Google has never mentioned about duplicate content in the above search quality guidelines. That makes it very clear that it treats duplicate content differently from copied content. The difference lies like the duplicated text and the intent. Duplicate content is commonplace in many websites, and in most cases, itis not at all manipulative and does not have any malicious intent. It thus becomes obvious for Google to penalize copied content. And even though it does not penalize duplicate content, it harms the optimization efforts and hinders the SEO prospects. Duplicate content can negatively impact rankings which is the biggest problem that marketers have to face. It happens because duplicate content splits the page authority, which reduces the ability of the page to rank in search results. Even the indexes of search engines become bloated due to duplicate content.

Considering the drawbacks faced by search engines as well as webmasters on account of duplicate content, it is advisable to remove duplicate content. However, one must be careful in removing duplicate content. There are more ways than one must keep away from, and only a few right ones to ensure that the task is done correctly.

how to remove duplicate contentFirst, let us focus on the right ways of removing duplicate content.

301 redirects

The best method in duplicate content removal is to use 301 redirects that redirect users to the new page without creating any confusion.  It also facilitates prompt de-indexation and helps in consolidating link authority. 301-page redirects send the appropriate signal to Google for assigning full authority to the new page. How Bing treats 301 redirects is not known, but for all practical purposes, you must use 301 redirects whenever you remove any page permanently.

Canonical tags

The purpose of canonical tags is to tell search engines which pages it should consider for indexing and assigning link authority. By using canonical tags, you can direct search engines towards the pages that are important to you and needs indexing besides adding authority to it. Canonical tags work similarly as 301 directs. But there is a marked difference between the two. 301 redirect is a command given to search engines while canonical tags are nothing but a request to search engines that it respects completely.

You must have clarity about when to use 301 redirects and when to use canonical tags. Try 301 redirects first but only when it is impractical to use it, or there is a need for the duplicate page to remain accessible that you must use canonical tags.

There are many more methods of removing duplicate content, but the experts at Kick Media SEO advise not to use it.

JavaScript redirects

This is a valid method recognized by Google for removing duplicate content, but you usually must avoid using it. Only when you face server access problems with 301 redirects that you can think about using JavaScript redirects.

302 redirects

Unlike 301 redirect the 302 redirects is a temporary signal but according to Google it can pass on 100% authority to pages and might be useful except that it does not prompt for de-indexation. Since it takes the same amount of effort and time to implement 301 and 302 redirects and moreover when 301 redirects facilitate de-indexation, it is worthwhile to use it instead of 302 redirect unless the requirement is temporary.

404 errors

The purpose of 404 errors is to inform users that the requested page is not available on the server so that search engines can deindex the page. But the problem is that 404 errors remove the page authority associated with the page too.  It is always better to 301 redirect a deleted page.

Soft 404 errors

Sometimes it can happen that the server 302 redirects a bad URL to a page that looks like an error page which then returns a server header response corresponding to 200 OK. The net result is that search engines receive confusing signals because the 302 response signals temporary deletion of the page. It is likely to come back and should remain indexed. On the other hand, 200 responses tell search engines that it is a valid page for indexing. In the end, soft 404 errors inflate the indexing by adding not just one bad URL but two.

steps to remove duplicate contentMeta refresh

On e-commerce sites, shoppers might sometimes see a page load as a brief blip on their screen before a new page becomes visible. It creates a negative user experience, and since Google takes longer time to process the redirects, it is a poor choice.

Meta robots no index tag

By using the no-index tag, you can tell search engine bots not to index the page. It does help in de-indexation, but when applied to an already indexed page, it may take months to complete the process.  But along with de-indexation, the link authority also gets lost. As search engines continue to crawl a page to verify it’s no index attribute, the weight of the dead pages keeps burdening the index.

Knowing what the best method is to remove duplicate pages is vital to prevent sending ambiguous signals to search engines so that the SEO interests remain intact.  Removing duplicate pages at the cost of SEO can be a dangerous move. So, you must always use the safe and sure methods like 301 redirects and 404 error depending on the situation. It is the only way for preventing the server from loading the content that it finds on that page. By using 301 redirect, you not only deindex the page but also retain its authority.