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How to fix duplicate content in WordPress

Guide
by James Holloway Agency Partnership Director

WordPress is a great platform for search engine optimisation (SEO) but you still need to be thorough with your practices if you want to rank well. Anyone who is familiar with SEO will know that website rankings can be impacted if there is duplicate content, and you can suffer a loss of traffic as a result. Here we will touch on the issue of duplicate content, how to identify it, and how to avoid creating it.

Defining duplicate content

Duplicate content is any content that appears online in more than one place – this can be the case even if all content is on a single website. Most of the time, this doesn’t happen intentionally and can occur if your website exists separately on “website.com” and on “www.website.com” – the exact same occurs in the instance of “http://” and “https://”. This results in Google picking just one of them randomly to rank and hiding any others from search results, therefore reducing traffic to each version.

Duplicate content can also occur across the web, for example if you have an article published with an online magazine and you publish the same content as a blog post on your website. While it may seem like a good idea to increase the instances of your article across the web, your search rankings will suffer – try linking to external articles from a press page instead.

How to find duplicate content

There are a few tools that you can try that will help you to identify duplicate content on your site. Google Search Console is one of them. Go to Google Search Console > Search Appearance > HTML Improvements, and you will see “duplicate meta descriptions” and “duplicate title tags”. These will tell you the associated URLs and help you to identify duplicate content pages. However, Google Search Console doesn’t always find all duplicate content, so it is wise to use other tools as well such as Siteliner.

How to fix duplicate content

Once you identify duplicate content on your website, the issue can be remedied by using a 301 redirect from the duplicate content to the original content, therefore directing all traffic to one URL. Another option is to use the canonical link element which tells Google which of the identical pages to show in search rankings and to treat the other as a copy, so any ranking power from both pages would all be attributed to the specified URL (you can find more details on canonical link elements here).