What is Duplicate Content Issue In WordPress & Fix For SEO

WordPress duplicate content
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Whenever we talk about WordPress SEO, duplicate content is one thing which every SEO professional will suggest you focus on and ensure you don’t become a victim of the same.

When people say “WordPress is SEO optimized”, they are not lying.

They are right, but the 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.

Like I stated earlier, whenever we talk about WordPress, one common comment which you will always get is “WordPress is SEO optimized”.

That’s true but not completely. You can start a website on WordPress and expect to start ranking well.

By selecting WordPress as your platform for building a website, you have definitely taken a wise decision but now the real work starts.

There are a few things which you need to do to ensure you improve the overall search engine optimization of your WordPress powered blog/website and get more free traffic from organic search engines such as Google.

In this article, I will help you understand everything about “WordPress duplicate content” and you will learn :

  • How to identify duplicate content in WordPress
  • How to avoid creating duplicate content

This is going to be a learning post for you,s o grab a cup of coffee and lets get started.

What exactly is Duplicate content issue in SEO?

Content which is the same but can be accessed by two URL.

This could be a piece of original content on your blog or sometime an original content copied by someone else.

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, that you created six copies of your content by mistake, something that will confuse Google as to which link they should show.

More specifically, it may consist of the following:

  • Pages with the same meta description, title, and other elements
  • A Web page accessible from several links

Then again, you don’t call all similar content duplication.

For instance, you don’t call it copying if the page details are translated into various languages or has the same navigation or header labels.

Given that you have several copies of one webpage and other sites have too, what could be the impact?

  • One, you may be forcing Google to show the users wrong information after going through the trouble of filtering insubstantial content.
  • Second, your site may rank in the bottom SERPs or may be penalized.
  • Third, your target users may look for other websites because you cannot provide them with relevant data.
  • Finally, you are only wasting your time and effort given the three effects above.

They will pick any at random and the 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 duplicate content. Now, the most common question is what is duplicate content in WordPress and how to fix it.

Here, I’m going to show some examples of common WordPress duplicate content on your blog and how you can fix it.

How to find WordPress duplicate content

Let’s talk about duplicate content on your WordPress blog. This is the first place you need to start with. Once you fix it, you will probably have taken care of 40% of your duplicate content issue.

Go to Google.com and search for your site name in this format:

Use Google site operator:

site:www.shoutmeloud.com

Go to the last page of the result and click on show results with omitted results.

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You will be able to see all the links Google has indexed from your blog which will help you analyze the 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

WordPress Duplicate content categories
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If you are showing complete post on the Tags & Categories page while keeping the page indexed (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 the search engine?

My suggestions, keep them no index and do follow. You can use plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast to quickly configure the no index tag.

No-index Author/Archives

Author archive noindex
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In WordPress, you can always browse author archive or archive from previous months. This is a usability feature and useful for your readers. But for a search engine, they are just pages, and there is no reason for them to index it as it will have the same content as your single post page.

Attachment Image URL

This is one small issue but many of you won’t realize it until you see it yourself.

When we attach an image to a WordPress post, it adds images as attachment URLs, and when a reader clicks on the image, it is taken to the image attachment page.

So your URL would be:

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

Now there are many problems related to this one. First, duplicate content is indexed on Google, which does not add any value.

In your Google Webmaster tools, you will see such links listed at short meta description tags which again is not very useful.

How to fix image attachment URL issue in WordPress?

One quick way is to use the Permalink setting of Yoast SEO plugin. You will find an option which says “Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL.” Keep that option checked, and that will take care of the issue.

Redirect attachment post to link
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Or, while uploading an image to your post, you should select none or link to image as option. See below screenshot for the reference:

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ReplytoCom issue

After Google Panda had rolled out, this was one of the most common issues I came across on a lot of websites, including mine. And that had a huge impact on search engine rankings for that particular domain.

When ShoutMeLoud got hit by Panda, over 35K replytocom links were indexed, and it took quite a while to remove those links from search engine index. Even setting URL parameter for replytocom did not remove the URLs immediately.

Now we have lesser no of replytocom links, but it’s still there. You can check your blog by searching on Google with Site: domain.com replytocom

If you see links from replytocom, it’s time 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
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Canonical URL Tag is one of the important aspects of On-page SEO. A URL could be accessed using:

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

All the URL’s point to the same post and thus create duplicate content for you. By setting up a canonical URL, you are directing search engine robots to the links they should index. This is one of the first things that you should look into on your blog.

In latest WordPress, this is a default feature. You can also use a plugin like SEO By Yoast’s inbuilt feature to quickly add canonical to your WordPress blog. Moreover, if you see comment-page-1 or similar issues, it will also be fixed by using canonical URLs. 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 in case someone has copied your article

All the above-mentioned WordPress duplicate issues are ones which you can deal with directly on your blog. Now, worse is when you are penalized for someone else’s actions. For example, suppose a blogger copied your blog and 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 complaints regarding any such content on the internet 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 may ask.

You can use duplicate content checker to find duplicate content on your WordPress blog.

You can also refer to my post on How to file a DMCA complaint using Google.

Some important things you should know

In most of the cases, any good WordPress theme takes care of duplication issues. F

or example, Genesis and many other theme club offer such SEO optimized framework and that’s where premium themes stand out compared to free WordPress themes.

You can consider using the Genesis theme or you can simply tweak your existing theme with the help of codes and plugins to make it free from duplicate content.

If you like this post, I suggest you read:

Do let us know what other WordPress duplicate content issues you have faced and the steps you have taken to fix the issue.

Also check out:

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

81 thoughts on “What is Duplicate Content Issue In WordPress & Fix For SEO”

  1. That’s one of the best post after long time ๐Ÿ™‚
    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.

  2. Great tips
    Ensuring that your site is full optomised so it doesnโ€™t get picked up as duplicate content is important, and should be one of the first things done, after launching your site.

  3. 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…

  4. 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

    1. @Aasim for that you have to use Robots meta plugin or if you are using WordPress SEO by yoast, it has the same feature too.

  5. @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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. @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.

  6. 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 !

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. @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.

  10. 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..

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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.

  16. “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?

  17. Mayukh Chakraborty

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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