scan website for duplicate content

How and Why Should You Scan a Website for Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is anathema to search engine optimization. Any duplicate content on your website can severely impact your search performance and have Google penalize you as well. This makes scanning your website for duplicate content extremely important.

Having duplicate content makes it difficult for search engines to identify relevant content for a particular search query, thereby impacting the search user experience negatively.

Let’s look into the reasons why checking for duplicate content is important and how you can do it yourself.

Why You Need to Scan Your Website for Duplicate Content

There are two kinds of duplicate content found on the web –

  • On-site duplicate content is the duplicate content that you’ve created on your own website. It exists on more than one page on your website.
  • Off-site duplicate content is when the same piece of content exists on multiple different websites

Duplicate content can be in the form of a blog post or even a copy of the meta descriptions of a webpage. You can often easily identify duplicate content but since it is at multiple places, it becomes less noticeable.

Someone can use black hat SEO tactics to scrape or copy your content onto their own website or sometimes unintentional errors such as multiple variations of the same URL can also be the reasons for duplicate content.

The biggest reasons you should weed out duplicate content are –

  • Creates a bad user experience for your website visitors who obviously wouldn’t want to read the same content twice or feel misled.
  • Confuses search engines and can result in both the content pages being downranked.
  • Your website traffic is diluted because other websites have to choose between two copies as well.
  • Can corrupt your reporting and analytics.

How Can You Find Duplicate Content on Your Website

An automated duplicate content checker is the best way to search for duplicate content. Since duplicate content can sometimes reside in hard-to-find places on your website, manually finding duplicates is difficult.

Duplicate content can also be erroneously created by you if you are writing on a popular topic.

The easiest place to start is with the use of plagiarism checker tools –

  • Copyscape can find duplicate content in a matter of seconds. Simply enter your text and let Copyscape tell you how what percentage of it is plagiarized.
  • Alexa has a duplicate content checker as part of its SEO audit tool. It automatically scans your website for instances of duplicate content and even creates a report containing URLs and meta descriptions.
  • Plagspotter is a great tool to find others who have plagiarized your content. It can even monitor URLs to find duplicate content.
  • Siteliner scans your website once a month to check for duplicate content while also checking for broken links and popular webpages on your website that perform well on search.
  • Use Google Alerts to create alerts when your post titles appear on other websites.
  • Use your webmaster tools to check for a large number of links coming from one website. Most likely your content has been scraped onto theirs.

How Can You Protect Yourself From Content Scrapers

Content scraping is unethical and one of the most common ways of your content getting duplicated.

If you find your content duplicated on another website, reach out to them asking them to take it down. If it is a popular and authoritative website, you might want to let them keep the content as long as they link back to you and give some of the link juice.

If you can’t contact the owner of the website, do a WHOIS lookup. Unless they are privately registered, you should be able to find some contact information. Another way is to contact the hosting company directly.

Placing a DMCA badge on your website is another way to deter potential content scrapers. DMCA takes down duplicate content at no charge and even offers tools to locate illegal copies of your content on other websites.

Creating valuable and unique content takes time and effort. While imitation is the best form of flattery, plagiarism isn’t. Duplicate content can negatively impact your search performance and finding it should be a part of your regular SEO health check.