What is WordPress Duplicate Content Issue & Fix for SEO

IN WordPress

Whenever we talk about WordPress SEO, WordPress duplicate content is one thing which every SEO professional will suggest you to avoid. It doesn’t mean when people say “WordPress is SEO optimized” they are lying, they are right, but duplicate content issue in WordPress arises because of many reasons. Today, we will look into some of the basic reasons and will try to fix it one by one.

WordPress Duplicate Content Issue

Whenever we talk about WordPress, one common comment which you will always get “WordPress is SEO optimized”. That’s true but not completely. You can start a website on WordPress and expect to start ranking well. By option for WordPress as your Website/Blogging platform, you have taken a wise decision but that’s not all. There are many things which you need to do from the first day when you start using WordPress.

What exactly is WordPress duplicate content issue?

Content which is exactly the same but can be accessed by two URL. This could be within your blog or could be on some copy-paste blog. For example, on a poorly optimized WordPress blog, an article can be accessed by:

  • http://www.domain.com/SEO-optimization
  • http://domain.com/SEO-optimization
  • http://domain.com/tag/SEO
  • http://www.domain.com/tag/SEO
  • http://domain.com/category/SEO
  • http://www.domain.com/Category/SEO
  • http://domain23.com/SEO-post (External website)

You can clearly see, unknowingly you created six copies of your content and Google will get confuse on which link they should show it. Precisely they will pick anyone of them and rest will be hidden from Google search. At the same time, this will be an issue as Google will slowly start penalizing your blog for lots of duplicate content. Now, the most common question is what are possible duplicate content in WordPress and how to fix it.

Here I’m going to show some of the common WordPress duplicate content that you might be creating on your blog and how can you fix it.

How to find WordPress duplicate content:

Let’s talk about duplicate content within your WordPress blog. This is the very first place to start with and by fixing this, you will be taking care of 40% of your blog SEO problems. Go to Google.com and search for your site name in this format:

site:www.shoutmeloud.com

See all the links and browse to last page and see show results with omitted results. You will be able to see what all links Google have indexed from your blog, and you can analyze what links Google should not index. Some common parts which search engine bots should not index are Tags, Categories, Author, Archive, Search and so on. If you see any of these results, it’s time to work on your blog SEO and make it better.

Tags and Categories no index:

This is the first place where you should start with. In case if you are showing complete post & not excerpt in Tags & Categories page and keeping your tags and categories as index (By default), you are already creating duplicate content for your blog. Moreover, do you think your tags and categories pages are adding any value to search engine? My suggestions, keep them no index and do follow. You can use plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast to  quickly configure no index tag.

Author/Archives:

In WordPress, you can always browse author archive or archive for older months. This is a usability feature and useful for your readers. But for search engine these are just another page, and there is no reason that they should index it. Because it will have the same content as your single post page. Maybe excerpt & not complete post, depending upon your theme settings. Setting them, no index would be helpful.

Attachment Image URL:

Here is one small issue but many of you won’t realize it until you see it yourself. When we attach an image to WordPress post, it adds images as attachment URL, and when reader click on the image, it will be taken to image attachment page.

So your URL would be like:

  • www.domain.com/1/
  • www.domain.com/1/SEOImage

Now there are many problems related to this one. First, duplicate content issue or very useless page is indexed in Google, which is not adding any value. In your Google Webmaster tools, you will see such links listed at short meta description tags and that again is not very useful.

How to fix Image attachment URL issue in WordPress?

One quickest way is to use Robots Meta WordPress plugin and under Permalink settings you will see an option which says “ Redirect attachment URL’s to parent post URL.” Keep that option checked, and that will take care of your this issue.

Robots-meta-redirect

Else when you are uploading image to your post, you can always link it directly to image or none.

ReplytoCom issue:

After Google Panda had rolled out, this is one of the most common issues I have seen on my and other people site which impacted search engine ranking for that particular domain.  Specially when ShoutMeLoud got hit by Panda, this is one of the major reasons for the same. Almost 35K replytocom links were indexed, and it took quite some time to remove those links from search engine index. Even setting URL parameter for replytocom didn’t remove the URL immediately. Now we have less no. of replytocom links but it’s still there. You can check for your blog too by searching on Google with Site: domain.com replytocom

If you see links form replytocom, it’s time for you to quickly set URL parameter from Google Webmaster tool as noindex. You can refer to my previous post on How to fix replytocom issue in WordPress.

Canonical URL:

Canonical-URl-WordPress

Canonical URL Tag is one of the important aspects of On-page SEO. A URL could be access using:

  • http://domain.com/1
  • http://domain.com/1/
  • http://www.domain.com/1
  • http://www.domain.com/1/

Now all the URL’s point to the same post and thus again create duplicate content for you. By setting up canonical URL, you are directing search engine robots to which link they should index. This is one of the first things that you should look into your blog. In WordPress 2.9+, this is a default feature of WordPress or else you can use plugin like SEO By Yoast inbuilt feature to quickly add canonical to your WordPress blog. Moreover, if you see comment-page-1 and such issues, it will also be fixed by using canonical URL. You can also manually add this code to your theme before <head> section

<?php if ( is_singular() ) { ?>
<link rel="canonical" href="<?php the_permalink(); ?>" />
<?php } ?>
</head>

You should also check out this video from Matt cutts where he explains more about Canonical tag:

Fixing duplicate content when somebody copied your article:

Now all the above mentioned WordPress duplicate issues are one which you can deal directly within your blog. Now, this worse duplicate content penalty is when you are penalize for someone action. For example, some blogger copying your blog post and he outranked your post. This is where you need to take help of Google DMCA. Google DMCA is very useful for Bloggers and webmasters to file a complaint regarding any such content on net which is copied from your blog post. If it’s a BlogSpot blog, Google will delete the post immediately & if it’s a self hosted blog or static site, Google will remove it from web index. How to start with it?

You can use Duplicate Copy content finder tools to find duplicate content on your WordPress blog. Now refer to my post on How to file a DMCA complaint using Google.

Some important thing you should know:

In most of the cases any good WordPress themes take care of duplication issue. For example, Genesis and many other theme club offers such SEO optimized framework and that’s where a premium themes stand out of free WordPress theme. Though you can consider using Genesis theme or you can simply tweak your existing theme with the help of codes and plugins to make it duplicate content free.

If you like this post, I would suggest you to read:

Do let us know what other WordPress duplicate content issues you have faced till now and what steps have you taken to fix the issue on your Website?

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Blog post by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1051 articles.

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Comments

  1. says

    Initially I didn’t knew about url optimization so recently I changed url of my 1 post 2-3 times.Now it’s under serp with 2 different url pointing to same content.Is this a case of duplicate content?

    How to remove those old urls.?

  2. says

    Shoutmeloud has solution for my every problem.Thanks a lot Harsh sir.
    As I was checking my blog stats on some web information site (statcrop),acccording to them two different urls are pointing to the same page i.e with www and without http://www.But my blog always use only www url.Followed all above procedure and everything seems to be fine.I don’t know why they are showing that issue.As a warning,I may get pennalize by google for duplicate content.

  3. Ayush Chandra says

    Very useful information Harsh. I have a question, I am using wordpress and my site’s url parameter is http://www dot musicbell dot com and i have no-follow all the archives. Now is there any chance of my site’s page/post, open with more than a single url?

  4. Azman Nabi says

    Hello Harsh,
    I have a querry regarding duplicate content issue.
    What if someone stole my content and indexed on google before mine? Will my content considered as duplicate or him?

  5. Hamza khan says

    very informative post.i have written many unique post but my site was getting zero traffic from google.when i searched my site in google i found that all the catagories and tags were indexed in google.then i used tool and find that my site has 30 percent of duplicate content.Now i am going to deindex them all and see the results.

  6. omri says

    Hey and thanks for this great support!

    I’m facing a duplicate problem that you didn’t mention here and it will be great to get some advice: I have a blog with about 15 posts, In the first months when I just opened it I used the “Your latest posts ” option in the reading settings and set it to show 3 posts per page and found that Google indexed these pages.

    Before about two months I created a static page for my home page and changed the reading settings to a “static page”. What happened since is that when I type site:mysite.com at google I see that in addition to my posts, google also shows these pages: mysite:com/page/2 mysite:com/page/3 mysite:com/page/4…. and all of them contain the exact same content as in my home page! These pages cause a big problem of duplicate content although they are not exist anymore and I really don’t know what to do in order to make them disappear from google search results… I lost my rankings since it happens and I believe that this issue have a lot to do with it… Any help guys on how to solve it?

    Thanks

  7. says

    My journey of WordPress is just starting and I am learning one by one. But it will be much better where you guide like what you should after making a blog on WordPress from security to SEO all guide. So that he or she never faces problem in feature which are very common like duplicity content etc. I am expecting that kind of post. especially it will be great for me (beginers ). Thanks for help.

  8. Deepak says

    Thanks for the article. I was facing some duplicate content issues. Now I will be able to fix those issues.

  9. says

    Thanks for this Harsh. One of my websites was throwing duplicate title issues in Google Webmaster due to the replytocom parameter – I’ve set as you’ve suggested about a week ago. How long did it take in your example above for things to clear in GWM? Other than setting the parameter what else can be done here to expedite things?

  10. says

    Thank you! While checking for my content on google I realized I had huge amount of duplicate content from tags/categories/archives. It hurts. I am fixing this and hopefully it will help a bit.

  11. Mayank Gupta says

    Harsh
    I have a image attachment url issue on my wordpress blog. It creates a seperate url for image attached and thus creates a new duplicate page.
    I changed the url of all posts by clicking in “Link to image” in wp image section of each post seperately
    But how can I remove 40 already indexed urls (duplicate content pages ) which have only image on the page FROM search engine

  12. Mayukh Chakraborty says

    Hi, nice to have a look into your nice post on content duplicity. Its very much buzzing issue now-a-days after the deadly attack of Google Panda since 2011 for fellow bloggers throughout the globe. I’m a new in this field and trying to build up my career in freelance blogging as I love to write and discuss over similar topics and subjects as you do and othet techies doing worldwide. Once again many thanks for this very much useful tips on the blogging content issue. All the best to you. Happy Blogging :)

  13. says

    “In case if you are showing complete post & not excerpt in Tags & categories page and keeping your tags and categories as doindex (By default), you are already creating duplicate content for your blog. ..”
    So if I’m using excerpts, and doindex, no duplicate content is being generated?

  14. says

    Thanks a bunch for this mate. I found out those bloat image pages were really messing up my ranking in the SERPS and found the solution here. The 301 redirect option is great as it keeps the link juice I have received from people who have back linked to the individual images.

  15. Shrinivas says

    Informative article.. Thanks for sharing! Is there any specific tool available to find out duplicate post on the same blog?

  16. Jonathan says

    Hi,

    I don’t understand something: you seem to have a ton of replytocom pages indexed. Why do you say you solved this problem?

    When I search for site:www.shoutmeloud.com replytocom
    I see over 140,000 results.

  17. Sarah S says

    Great tips, thank you! Removing duplicate content from your website (eespecially after the recent Google Panda updates) can allow your website to increase it’s rankings significantly.

  18. Radha Krishna says

    Most of the duplicate & SEO issues can be taken care by using Yoast WordPress plugin + Robots Meta. It’s an awesome plugin. Thanks for such detailed tutorial.

  19. Bhaveek says

    harsh i had now removed lots of duplicate content of my blog on google. also wanted to know my categories are still seen in the google search..

    • says

      @Sachin one easy plugin is Robots meta plugin or if you are using WordPress SEO by Yoast, it has the option too. If you are using premium Theme, most of premium themes offer inbuilt SEO option..You might like to check your theme option page.

  20. Sammy says

    Hi, thanks for this wonderful article. At first, it gave me a shock and I thought there’s lot of work to be done on my site. But I checked my site again and I found that all of this is being taken care of by the Platinum SEO plugin.

    However, this article has helped me to understand the technical nuances of SEO optimized site.

  21. Ritesh says

    Thanks for sharing this information Harsh. After reading this post, I realized that I was having lots of duplicate content in my blog. All those duplicates have been removed by excerpts. Thanks again for this wonderful tips.

  22. Aasim says

    Ok thank you very much!

    and yes, canonical URL is enabled on my blog but i found a strange thing that it doesn’t appear on my homepage but it appears on posts/pages. Previously, it was generating by my SEO plugin (all-in-one SEO) but i removed from there. and found this that it’s generating at post/pages but not for the homepage. after that, i put the code into the htacess for 301 redirect from non-www to www.

  23. Aasim says

    There’s no such parameter call at the URL Parameters Tab in webmaster. Plus, i have found some other errors bit similar like:

    /2011/05/28/ipad-3g-make-phone-calls-and-sms-coming-soon/
    /ipad-3g-make-phone-calls-and-sms-coming-soon/?postcomment=true

    previously, I have restricted via Robots.txt but i found that it aint working. BTW thanks for the response, but there is no such parameter call at the Webmaster in URL parameters Tab, if i am correct you’re talking about that? Please help me out! waiting for your response, thanks !

  24. Aasim says

    @Harsh Agrawal – Thanks for the response. BTW, i have also found in my webmaster that Google has created duplicate title tags under HTML suggestions tab, which looks like this:

    /2011/07/13/iphone-4-updated-to-fix-boot-issue/
    /2011/07/13/iphone-4-updated-to-fix-boot-issue/?comments=true

    Any idea? how to fix this problem? Please response for this as well. Thanks :)

    • says

      @Aasim Login to your Google Webmaster tool and see if there is any parameter call ?comments=true. Set it to noindex and it will take some time before Google will completely deindex it from Web-search. Make sure not to block this using Robots.txt as Google won’t be able to crawl it again and it may take lots of time to get it deindexed from Web-search.

  25. Aasim says

    Hey, Nice article and really good information on duplicate content. My concern is more for the image attachments URL that create another url and being indexed as duplicate in my webmaster, you have provided a solution for that, it can be solved using permalink settings to redirect URLs to parent post URL. By in my wordpress permalinks settings, there is no such option available so how can enable it. Please response on my query, thanks

  26. Basant says

    Harsh,
    Appreciate your efforts for this post. Though I was aware that duplicate content is not only about someone else copying my content yet I never explores it in such a depth. I’m trying to understand the issue, will try to fix a few on my blog…

  27. Wasim Ismail says

    Great tips
    Ensuring that your site is full optomised so it doesn’t get picked up as duplicate content is important, and should be one of the first things done, after launching your site.

  28. Dinesh says

    That’s one of the best post after long time :)
    I faced duplicate content issue with my blog bay tags and categories. Even though Google indexed them and shown as sitelink (which everyone likes to have it), I had to set ‘NOINDEX’ for these tags.

    I’m sure it helped me to overcome duplicate content issues since the warning message disappeared in Google webmaster tools.
    You said correct about premium themes, my genesis theme takes care most of the SEO and duplicate issues. I had to add a small coding somewhere in theme file to avoid comment-page-1,2,3 problem, but really I forgot now.

    Thanks for the share Harsh.

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