How to Solve Your Duplicate Content Issues

Content Marketing Search Engine Optimization 5 min read
Avoid duplicate content with Story Chief
© Jolien Evaert @ Story Chief

Duplicate content is a natural and inevitable byproduct in this age of content creation and distribution.

Content marketing is the new gold, and any good content marketer will publish their story to as many channels as they can to reach the largest audience possible.

What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content typically refers to blog content or written content that appears on the internet in more than one URL.

Unlike repurposed content, which refers to content that has been edited or modified for different channels, duplicate content is pretty much the exact same piece of content, just published in a different place. For example, you publish something on your blog, LinkedIn, Medium, and a syndicated publication.

Why is duplicate content an issue?

The same content will inevitably be found on multiple url variations. Simply put, there's tons of duplicate content across different domains.

Is this really a problem?

There have been different trends over the past few years. Some bloggers and marketers felt it wasn't a problem, so they simply copy and pasted the same content on multiple channels. Then, everyone was worried that Google was giving a penalty for duplicate content, so they started posting just the introduction, or just a sparse outline of their blog posts on sites like Medium and LinkedIn.

However, users read on these platforms because they want the entire piece right then and there, so this strategy ultimately felt unsatisfying to readers.

Is there a penalty?

While there isn't a penalty for duplicate content, there can still be SEO issues. If someone types in the keyphrase for your article or even the title, Google isn't going to rank all of the different URLs for it, because their algorithm wants to give searchers a variety of search results.

This means that Google is going to pick which one to rank, and it might not be the one on your original site. Meaning, you're all of the sudden driving traffic to Medium or LinkedIn or some other publication, instead of to your website.

That's not good at all, because you can't invite this person further down your funnel or to engage with your other content. You also can't remarket to them. If they end up in LinkedIn instead of your site after searching for a certain keyphrase, chances are they'll get stuck dealing with LinkedIn messages instead of downloading your latest ebook.

Have no fear, for canonicalization is here.

How does canonicalization solve your duplicate content problems?

Excellent question.

Duplicate content and Google
Duplicate content and Google

Canonicalization: It's not a religion, but it's as close to biblical proportions as you can get as far as Google best practices and organic SEO.

It's the act of notifying search engines as to where the master copy of your content lives, and it's how StoryChief publishes to mutliple destinations from a single home base.

Whether you're pushing your content to multiple websites or external hubs like Blogger or Medium, etc., nobody should forget where they came from.

Search engines should be alerted to this too, just for safe-keeping. So no matter where your content is published, search engines will know where the place of origin is.

Duplicate content and canonical urls
Duplicate content across multiple domains

How does canonicalization work, exactly?

Well, if you really want to know, it's all done through the placement of something called a canonical tag in the code:

<link rel="canonical" href="">

Rel Canonical SEO
How to use rel canonical tag

Don't know how or don't want to code?

No worries.

A multichannel publishing tool takes care of the "rel=canonical" tag for you, and more, so you don't have to.

Benefits of canonical URLs for your duplicate content

To sum up, canonical URLs help with a lot:

  • Gives Google a heads-up as to the origin of your content.
  • Provides you an organic backlink through canonicalization.
  • Gives you more link authority and better rankings.

You just need to write, click, and marvel at the impact your content creates. In order to do this however, you need to manage your multichannel publishing from one central tool instead of copying and pasting your content everywhere.

Why you shouldn't give up on multichannel publishing

We get it. Canonicalization is a big word.

Wouldn't it be better to just stop posting duplicate content on digital publications and sites like Medium and LinkedIn? Wouldn't that be safer? No. Because canonicalization tells Google which piece is the original, you no longer have to worry about SEO issues.

And you shouldn't give up on multichannel publishing, because it has so many benefits that can't be denied:

  • Reach new audiences
  • Reach your existing audience in their preferred channel
  • Maximize your time spent on content marketing
  • Help you build an audience

You can't expect people to land on your website directly. You need to promote your content using the channels where your target audience is most likely to be found.

Repurposing content is great for social media. You can turn a YouTube video into a short Instagram or LinkedIn clip. You can turn a blog post into 20 tweets. But there is so much opportunity in getting your blog posts out into new channels. In every industry, there are dozens of digital publications that accepts guest posts, and many of them are more than happy to syndicate from your original blog.

And of course, Medium has 60 million active monthly readers and LinkedIn has 303 million active monthly users.

Why give up those channels if you don't have to.

How to fix duplicate content issues once and for all

Great! We're no longer freaked out about duplicate content, and we want to promote our content. Now what do we do?

  1. Write awesome content.
  2. Choose which URL location is the primary channel — decide which one you want Google to see as the original, and update this setting in your multichannel publishing tool.
  3. Publish it to your site and your external channels from a multichannel publishing tool so canonicalization is handled automatically.
  4. Later, edit and update your content from the same central location (if you need to).

Did you know? StoryChief can help you publish to your website and your favorite channels with just one click. Canonicalization is handled for you so you can reap the benefits of multichannel publishing for content promotion.