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Why Is Duplicate Content An Issue For SEO?

Last updated: Feb 22, 2024

why is duplicate content an issue for seo

Why is having duplicate content an issue for SEO?

Duplicate content is an issue for SEO because search engines may need help determining which version is more relevant to a given search query. The content pieces are basically competing with each other. That can happen within one website or multiple websites across the web.

What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content in SEO means having the same or very similar content appear on a website. This can happen within one website or multiple websites across the internet. Either way, each content piece has a unique web address (URL). 


If there are multiple pieces of similar or identical content to be indexed by Google or other search engines, it will be hard for the machine to determine which piece to show in search results. 


Content is perceived as duplicate when the search engine has a problem deciding which content piece to show and which to hide. Amateur search engines will show both pieces of content in a different order. They would then test which one performs better and depending on the result would prioritize one over the other. 


However, Google and other more sophisticated search engines will only show one piece of content with the same or similar content. That’s because users don’t want to find the same piece of content on different search results pages. There are exceptions to the rule. Google would show duplicates if there are no other better results to show for the particular search term.

Note: Duplicate content is always happening on a search term level. Meaning, a page can be indexed and found on a search engine for one keyword and not for another one.


For example, if both an article “The complete guide on plumbing in Miami” and a local service landing page “Miami plumbing services” are supposed to rank for “plumbing in Miami” it will be hard for the search engine to determine which page to show.


Let’s say Google thinks the landing page is more relevant for that particular keyword and shows it instead of the article. The article would be considered duplicate content and would not appear for the specific keyword. 


However, if we search for “plumbing guide Miami” it’s very likely that the service page will not appear on the search results as it is considered a duplicate of the article and less relevant.


If you have two 100% identical content pieces Google will most likely show the one with more backlinks or internal links pointing to the page if everything is the same. Google might end up showing one page today and the other tomorrow.

The biggest Duplicate Content Myth

The duplicate content myth is by far the most common in the SEO world. Almost every week I see at least one person asking about duplicate content issues in my local SEO Facebook group. 


Here is the myth:

Myth: “Google penalizes websites with duplicate content”

Does Google penalize websites for having duplicate content?

No, Google does not and has never penalized websites for duplicate content. If Google penalizes websites because of duplicate content, half the web would be under review. Every website has duplicate content to some extent. And that is not per se a bad thing.

Why is having duplicate content bad for SEO?

Having duplicate content is bad for SEO because search engines might struggle to figure out which version is better for a specific search.


The same content is essentially fighting against itself. This can occur on one website or across many websites on the internet. Just because there is no penalty for duplicate content doesn’t mean it’s good for your search engine optimization. 


Consequences of having duplicate content on a website:

  • Two identical or near-identical pieces of content start to compete with each other
  • Google may remove the wrong page from search engine result pages
  • It would dilute the power of backlinks as they’re split between multiple pages
  • Duplicate content could waste the crawl budget (Google states that this is only the case for websites with more than 100k pages)

How much duplicate content is acceptable?

How much duplicate content is acceptable depends on a variety of factors. Google might accept near-duplicate content for one website and don’t show it for another one. The keywords used in the query and the market for the specific term are critical. I’d recommend changing at least 30% of the page if you’re facing duplicate content issues for SEO.

Final Words

Duplicate content can only be an issue for SEO if the concept is not fully understood. If you know why duplicate content is a problem, you can easily fix the issues and improve your rankings on search engines.


This article, for example, is a near-duplicate for some keywords of this article: How to Avoid Duplicate Content Issues for Local SEO


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About the author

Picture of Tim Kahlert

Tim Kahlert

Tim Kahlert is the founder & CEO of He is a passionate SEO professional who has been helping agencies and small business owners succeed on local search and Google Maps for the past 5 years. He's regularly sharing high-quality local SEO & Google Business Profile strategies on his channels. Tim is also a contributor to the Whitespark Local Search Ranking Factor Study. Click on the author name or the social icons below to learn more and connect with Tim.

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5 months ago

Btw I had found tons of sites which have duplicate content… And when I found them I was shock 😲 and so many questions arises is in my mind about dup content and penalties…. But today I came to know that Google don’t penalized sites for dup content which is weird thing.

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