Weekly SEO news: 10 March 2015
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Duplicate content is an issue for many webmasters. Although there is no penalty for having duplicate content on your website, Google has ranking algorithm filters that act very similarly to a penalty. What can you do to avoid duplicate content problems?

In the news: Google may flag sites with broken security certificates, Google benefits a lot from Wikipedia, Google AdWords bans use of hyperlinks for some, and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Duplicate content: it's not a penalty but it feels like one
Duplicate content is an issue for many webmasters. Although there is no penalty for having duplicate content on your website, Google has ranking algorithm filters that act very similarly to a penalty. Google's Gary Illyes confirmed at SMX last week that duplicate content does not influence the other pages on your website.

duplicate content issue

What's the issue with duplicate content?
Duplicate content won't rank on Google as long as there is another more popular page with the same or similar content. If your website has multiple pages that contain the same content, it can be difficult for Google to pick the right version.

Only one version of the content will be displayed in Google's search results and the other versions will be hidden. For many webmasters, this feels like a penalty because other websites that have similar content are displayed in Google's search results instead of their own websites.
What does Google think about duplicate content?
In general, Google does not consider duplicate content spam:

 "Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results."

They also admit that duplicate content can cause ranking problems:

"In rare situations, our algorithm may select a URL from an external site that is hosting your content without your permission. If you believe that another site is duplicating your content in violation of copyright law, you may contact the site’s host to request removal."

Legitimate duplicate content can be caused by the mobile versions of regular web pages, by printer-only versions of web pages, by store items that are linked via multiple distinct URLs, etc.
How to avoid duplicate content issues
There are several things that you can do to avoid duplicate content problems:
  • Use 301 redirects to redirect visitors to the correct pages on your website.
  • Always use the same link, i.e. do not link to /page, /page/index.htm and /page/.
  • Use country-specific domains for country-specific content. Use domain.de instead of domain.com/de.
  • Syndicate your content carefully. If the websites that show your content are more popular than your own websites, they will be shown in Google's search results.
  • Avoid long boilerplate texts on all pages. Better link to a page with the details.
  • Avoid similar pages. If you have several pages with similar content, consider merging them into one page.
Duplicate content can lead to ranking problems on Google. Although there is no official duplicate content penalty, Google's filters for duplicate content have a very similar effect.

Use the website audit tool in SEOprofiler to find and remove duplicate content issues on your website. If you haven't done it yet, create your SEOprofiler account now:

Remove duplicate content issues

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Google may flag sites that have broken security certificates in the search results
"Gary Illyes from Google said [...] that about half of the security certificates on the web are broken certificates and he is experimenting with trying to address the problem in the Google search results. [...]  It is unclear how 'broken' a secure page has to be for Google to issue this warning."


GoogleGoogle's John Mueller: keep your HTTP site listed

On Twitter, Google's John Mueller said that you should keep your HTTP site listed in Google Webmaster Tools after moving to HTTPS:

"You don't need to keep it listed, but it makes it easier to spot new issues when they come up."


Google and Wikipedia: best friends forever

"The idea is that Google will use the billions of facts they have collected from Wikipedia, and other people’s sites without their permission, (facts aren’t copyrightable) and match those facts with the content of a site’s webpages to give a 'trust ranking' for every page. [...]

None of Google’s or Brin’s billions or the Foundations millions go to the people who actually built Wikipedia. Writers and editors get nothing, other than an imaginary pat on the back."


GoogleGoogle AdWords bans use of hyperlinks

"My AdWords account was suspended after ten years of continuous advertising. I was told that hyperlinking from my domain to any another domain was a breach of Adwords policy. [...]

I would like to confirm that any links which are taking a customer to a different website are not allowed."

Google changes car insurance links after SEOs complain
"Google launched auto insurance comparison ads and in their announcement, Google used what SEOs would call keyword rich anchor text to link to both the new auto insurance comparison portal and the old credit card comparison portal. [...]

Some SEOs felt Google using these keyword rich anchor text links was 'unnatural' and a way to manipulate their own organic search algorithms."

Search engine newslets

  • Google tests a results page without descriptions.
  • YouTube tests a new search bar.
  • Bing Listens: send your feedback to Bing.
  • Google may discontinue its AJAX crawlable guidelines.
  • Facebook: making page likes more meaningful.
3. Recommended resources

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