4. Deepen your SEO Knowledge Avoiding Duplicate Content

Learn how to avoid and fix duplicate content on your site through a canonicalization process with these free reliable SEO resources and guides. 

Dealing with Duplicate Content: Canonicalization in Detail

Guide from Ebere Jonathan

What is canonicalization

Guide from Google

When To Canonicalize, Noindex, Or Do Nothing With Similar Content

Guide from Josh McCoy

Canonicalization

Guide from Moz

Duplicate Content: How To Avoid It With Canonicalization

Guide from Andi Coombs

Duplicate Content and SEO

Guide from Backlinko

Canonicalization: What It Is & How It Works

Guide from Patrick Stox

Tips to avoid or eliminate duplicate content

Actionable tips shared by seasoned SEO specialists to avoid or fix duplicate content issues.

Avoid duplicate content by planning ahead of time. This is an essential part of your content strategy and keyword research phases. Ensure you are not targeting the exact keywords across multiple pages. This leads to duplicate content issues. Analyzing and mapping your keywords properly prevents this problem. If you do this during your strategy phases, you can often avoid duplicate content from the get go and not need to clean this up down the line.
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You could consolidate similar content. If you have multiple pages with similar content, consider consolidating them into a single, comprehensive page. If you have multiple URLs pointing to the same content, you could implement 301 redirects to consolidate authority to the preferred URL.
Or you could use canonical tags on duplicate pages to point to the original, preferred version of the content. Remember that addressing content duplication is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor your site's performance and search index status to catch and resolve any new issues that might arise.
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On the duplicate content side, sometimes there's so many hands in the cookie jar/backend of a site from creative agencies, SEO specialists, SEM specialists, graphics/webops specialists and more- it's important to meet and discuss everyone's goals for the site to ensure not only that duplicate content doesn't end up on a site but that the same goals aren't being duplicated either. This can save everyone, including SEO and the site owner/client's time, money, and peace of mind.
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Pagination and filters can be the biggest curse, Google needs to crawl all versions of the page even with canonical tags, and variance means canonical tags might not work! Working on a site where each page has 17 varients and each version is indexed.
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Canonical tags should be a backup plan, not your go-to solution. Always try to avoid having duplicate content in the first place. Consider them as signposts, that Google may decide to ignore if it thinks it knows better!
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There are lots of instances where cross-domain canonicals don't work, particular with large publisher sites where content is often syndicated. Sites like MSN (.) com often do this, yet will outrank the "canonical" version / the canonical gets ignored.
So - be careful doing this!
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Start by building a clean site structure with a well defined canonical URL version used across the website. Enhance your preferred version's authority through strong internal links to canonical URLs. Manage consistency across media types (can be especially challenging with larger teams). Always have a list of canonical links per targeted keyword updated to avoid confusion.
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When working on large websites with decentralized content production teams, unintended duplication can happen.
My tip to avoid duplicate content is to hold trainings with content creators. In the training, you can emphasize the importance of unique content and share tips on how to prevent duplication.
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One area where content duplication is common is for recurring events (especially annual events). Common examples include conferences, Black Friday, and National Whatever Day. The most common solution — creating a new URL for each year — is the wrong one. A better solution is to update the content on the existing URL and move last year's content to a new archive URL if it's necessary or worthwhile to keep it published.
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Duplicate content can emerge on websites due to things website owners are unaware. Technical issues within content management systems (CMS) might inadvertently generate duplicate URLs due to parameters or session IDs. E-commerce platforms often grapple with similar product descriptions across various listings, resulting in unintentional duplication. And often, the complexities of internationalization, pagination, and print-friendly versions can inadvertently cause content to be duplicated.
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Too many focus on *exact* duplication and not enough on thematic duplication. They are 2 different problems (with 2 different causes), but thematic duplication is harder to spot and causes more issues in the long run.
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Avoiding Duplicate Content and Canonicalization FAQs
What's canonicalization in SEO?

Canonicalization in SEO refers to the process of choosing the best URL to index and rank for a given page when there are multiple URLs available showing similar or identical content. It’s a way to handle duplicate content issues and ensure that search engines understand which version of a page is the “preferred” to rank. 

What's a canonical URL in SEO?

The term “canonical” is derived from “canon,” signifying “rule” or “standard.” A canonical URL in SEO refers to the preferred URL chosen to index, rank and consistently refer to as the one featuring certain content to search engines and users, with the goal of avoiding duplication issues. 

What are the main canonicalization methods in SEO?

Using canonical tags, 301 redirects, and inclusion in XML Sitemaps are ways to specify canonical URLs to search engines, which can (and/or should) be aligned to send consistent signals to search engines about them. 

The SEO Learning Roadmap

Take a look at the SEO learning roadmap below, featuring the different areas, from the basics of SEO, to the most common activities and phases of the SEO Process:

Start learning SEO with the fundamental concepts and areas, why they're important, and the basics to execute them: keyword research, content optimization analysis, technical optimization and link building.
Once you know the main SEO concepts, it's time to put them in practice by learning to develop an SEO process, from establishing a strategy and setting goals to management, measurement, and reporting.
Learn to implement the most important SEO configurations in the top Web platforms in the market, along with considerations to take into account.