Content marketing undoubtedly offers huge potential for customer acquisition, customer loyalty, and especially for SEO. Only those who not only align their content precisely with their own target group, their customer journey and individual touchpoints, but also offer exclusively unique content, can profit maximally.

If the same texts are used more than once, this is referred to as duplicate content. Duplicate content is content that has already been published in exactly the same or very similar form in one or more other places on the company's own website or on the Internet in general.

This can lead to problems on various levels:

  • On the one hand, there is the threat of legal difficulties if, for example, texts are simply copied and pasted from a competitor.
  • On the other hand, duplicate content does not remain hidden from Google. The search engine evaluates it negatively, so that the website ranking can suffer greatly. This applies just as much to your own content that appears more than once on your own website (internal) as it does to content that has been copied elsewhere (external).
  • And finally, (potential) customers are also extremely attentive to duplicate content. Today, people move around the web in an absolutely self-determined manner and compare their options very carefully, among other things, in related texts. If they come across duplicate content, this does not reflect well on the company in question.

Accordingly, you should avoid duplicate content or find and eliminate duplicate content that already exists.

How this works and other important facts on the subject, read here!

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What are the reasons for duplicate content

Basically, we speak of internal and external duplicate content.

Internal duplicate content is content that appears on several websites or social media sites from one and the same author or rights holder.

External duplicate content is used by different players on generally independently operating internet sites.

In fact, intentionally copied content is only part of the reason for the creation of duplicate content. There are various other creation processes that often happen completely unconsciously.

This is how internal duplicate content is created

  • Practical reasons: Duplicate content is very often the result of practical reasons. For example, a general company description is often used on several pages of a website and then there is duplicate content.
  • Duplicate domains: It is not uncommon for individual web pages to be accessible via multiple domains (for example, an encrypted and an unencrypted domain - http and https). Identical content that then appears on these pages is classified as duplicate.
  • Specially optimized pages: Extra print-optimized pages or pages specially developed for mobile devices with identical content to their main pages are classified as pages with duplicate content.
  • Different website country versions: This can be a mixed form of internal and external duplicate content. For example, if there is a single website for each of the German, Swiss and Austrian markets with largely identical information, duplicate content may quickly be present.

This is how external duplicate content is created

  • Cooperation: Sometimes blog posts, social media posts, etc. are used online in full or in part by one of the author's partners as part of a cooperation. This results in duplicate content.
  • Website relocation: If the website has been relocated and perhaps relaunched, and the old domain can still be reached, duplicate content results when the same content is used. This can also be interpreted as a mixture of internal and external double content.
  • Illegally copied content: Perhaps very good content or content that ranks highly on Google is copied by competitors and used illegally for one or even several other websites. This is how duplicate content is created.
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What are the types of duplicate content?

Let's now take a closer look at the different manifestations of duplicate content. The more you are aware of the differences, the more likely you are to reliably eliminate or fix duplicate content.

Illegally taken content from other sites is only a part of the many types of duplicate content, but it is quite common that particularly good content is quickly copied and pasted from other sites.

Quite a few website operators think that they can thus simply transfer the text potential in SEO and customer persuasion to their page(s). Others simply copy because they don't want to go to the trouble of generating their own unique content.

Although Google does not impose a penalty for duplicate content, copiers still do lasting damage to their website ranking. In addition, there are of course legal consequences starting from the originator.

By the way, clearly marked citations are not duplicate content.

In online stores, there are often products that are very similar.

For example, sometimes identical fashion items of one and the same brand in different colors are listed as individual items and, except for the difference in color, all described in the same way. Or tools of different brands, but which basically have an identical function, are always given the same description except for the brand name.

This can be unproblematic in individual cases, but often such text adoptions add up strongly and thus weaken the website ranking considerably.

The indiscriminate handling of domains very often leads to duplicate content. Whether consciously or unconsciously, several different domains or URLs are often created for one and the same website.

Since Google evaluates individual domains separately, duplicate content can quickly result.

Typically affected are pages that can be reached via several addresses, such as via a long and a short spelling (for example and

Quite common are also domains that can be accessed with and without www. or with and without https encryption. Or session IDs are used in a URL, which then also count extra.

Multiple domains are a topic in themselves in that they are used by many site owners to boost their SEO. Thus, they serve to be multilingual and/or generally better accessible for a broad international target group. Under such an approach, more visibility can definitely be achieved.

However, if identical content is then simply adopted for several pages, the effect is the opposite.

Using different languages is generally not a difficulty.

Search engines do not translate texts in order to detect possible duplications.

However, it can be problematic if a page that exists in several languages is played out in its different versions on the same search market.

If, for example, German-language and English-language content is to be taken into account by Google in Germany, duplicate content can arise.

With the help of special tools that create interfaces between websites and news tickers, it is possible to automatically reproduce news from other pages one-to-one on one's own website.

In this way, website operators hope to create more good content that will be rated positively by Google. Such tactics have been known for years to be problematic in terms of duplicate content, yet some webmasters still use them.

Here and there - instead of using Responsive Web Design - extra mobile web pages are still generated, which have a different URL, but the same content as the desktop pages.

If such a procedure is necessary or desired and Google is not explicitly informed that it is an additional mobile page, duplicate content is created.


How do you reliably find duplicate content?

There are different ways to find duplicate content. You can use Google or special tools to find internal or external duplicate content.

  • Google: You can find duplicate content directly using Google search. Here, the search is for concise sentences or even longer excerpts of your own texts. These are to be entered in quotation marks in the search line. If there are several search hits, duplicate content is present.
  • Tools for internal duplicate content: There are now numerous tools that make it easy to detect internal duplicate content, so-called duplicate content checkers. These helpers crawl your own web pages in a similar way to Google. A recommendable representative is Siteliner.
  • Tools for external duplicate content: External duplicate content is particularly annoying when it involves illegally used texts. If searching via Google is too cumbersome for you, you can use the specialized tools from Sistrix or Copyscape, for example. These provide comprehensive reports that can be used to check for possible duplicate content.

How to avoid duplicate content in the first place?

Ideally, of course, duplicate content should not occur in the first place. Avoiding duplicate content is anything but a foregone conclusion - especially since such processes often occur unconsciously. However, if you take the following aspects into account, you have a very good starting position.

Whoever deals with the - regularly updated - rules of the major search engines from time to time, runs much less risk of placing duplicate content or also committing other SEO mistakes.

Texts should always be produced uniquely. The most important thing - also from a legal point of view - is not to appropriate the content of other pages.

Duplicate product text in the online store can be avoided by bundling the same goods from one brand, which may differ only in minor details, on one page.

The Google Search Console offers various useful SEO tools. Among other things, you can determine how web pages are to be crawled.

For example, it is possible to prohibit Google from crawling PDFs with obviously duplicate content by making an entry in Robots.

With the help of hreflang it is possible to specify Google to index specific languages of a website in the correct country.

Ideally, only one domain is connected to a website.

In order to avoid duplicate content, for example, if a page is accessible with and without www. (which can be advantageous for the range), one should redirect the one variant to the other.

For example, if a domain move has taken place and an old website no longer exists, a 301 redirect is used to avoid a 404 error page and thus negative SEO.

The 301 leads visitors unerringly to the new page.

By inserting "noindex" in the meta tags, Google can be instructed not to index the corresponding pages or to ignore them in the search results. Thus, duplicate content there would also practically run under the radar.

It is important to leave such pages on "follow" anyway, so that search engines can still crawl them.

The canonical tag is inserted in the header of a web page. It works similarly to noindex.

The difference is that Google still indexes pages with a canonical tag, but not noindex pages. Both can be useful in specific strategic contexts.


Better avoid duplicate content and benefit holistically!

Duplicate content does not immediately break the neck of websites in terms of SEO, if it is not used in large quantities. Especially with regard to smaller snippets and teasers, at least very similar content can hardly be avoided.

However, it is also clear that content is already a very important piece of the puzzle in the big picture of SEO and also in customer acquisition and retention, and it is still gaining in relevance. Unique content is clearly preferred by all sides concerned - i.e. by search engines and (potential) customers.

So, if you want to profit maximally and perhaps you are in a highly competitive market, you should use every helpful strategy available. Avoiding duplicate content is definitely one of them!

Simply taking over content illegally from other authors is an absolute no-go - there is no need to discuss this further.

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