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Common Duplicate Content Errors You’re Missing & Easy Solutions

04/09/12 – 5:32 am | Posted By: Lienna

Last week, we talked about the duplicate content errors that can occur with URL structure. Like I’ve said before, the bigger the website; the greater chances of having duplicate content issues. That’s why ecommerce websites need to be built with SEO in mind and optimized to be user and search friendly.

Let me first define duplicate content in conjunction with this post. “Content that is duplicate or near duplicate in nature.” Often occurs with indexing dynamic content, specifically on ecommerce websites. To be a little more descriptive, pages with the same title tags, meta descriptions (and other similar on-page elements) that are unintentionally fighting with each other to be indexed & ranked.

Three Duplicate Content Issues with Your Ecommerce Site

1.  One different detail for the same product.

Okay, so you sell a beverage product online. The product comes in two different sizes, and consequently the price and URL (ID#) changes with the size. Everything else on the product page is the same. Follow this chart if you’re a visual learner. Highlighted areas are the elements that both pages have in common.

Beverage Product Page One Beverage Product Page Two
Title Tag & Meta Description Title Tag & Meta Description
H1 Tag H1 Tag
Product Name Product Name
Product Description Product Description
Reviews Reviews
Other Recommendations Other Recommendations
Price Price
Size Size
Internal links (recommended products, etc.) Internal links (recommended products, etc.)

If you have Google Webmaster Tools for this website, they will recognize this problem and classify the error under “HTML suggestions.”

Easy Fix: There are two things you can do, here. You can add a rel=canonical tag to the page that you prefer- therefore, they wouldn’t be competing against each other in the SERPs and Google would recognize you prefer one URL over the other. OR, you can change the title tag and meta description along with any other elements on the page to reflect that although its the same product, it’s a different “type” because the size and price are different. Each decision has its’ pros & cons, but leaving it “as is” isn’t a good solution.

2. Printer-Friendly Pages

Of course you want users to be able to print a well, formatted page of your product and use as they desire; but they’re wreaking havoc on your SEO. Okay, so that’s a little dramatic. But, because your printer-friendly pages have a different URL, they are competing with the regular product page for indexing and ranking.

For example:
Product page URL:
Printer-friendly page URL:

Everything about the page is the same (content-wise) except for the URL.

Easy Fix: Good news, you have options.

  • You can create a printer-friendly style sheet using CSS.
  • Add a no-index meta tag to the printer pages to prevent Google .
  • Add a rel=canonical tag to the printer page, referencing the preferred URL.
  • Or block the pages in your robots.txt file.

3. Pagination

Pagination isn’t really duplicate content, ‘per-say’- but if untreated; search and search filters providing multiple pages can display the same title tag and meta description but have different URLs. So in this case, I’m treating it as duplicate content.

Let’s say your website visitors can search by category (ie. flavor) for your beverages. That flavor category search returns 7 pages. The first few might look like this:

  • First page displayed in search:
  • Second page:
  • Third page:
  • And so on…

Each of those pages have the same title tag and meta description, although they have different products.

Easy Fix: Some webmasters (and SEOs) use rel=canonical tags, referencing the first page in search results. Because the pages aren’t duplicate, Google suggests using rel=next, and rel=previous tags.You can also take it a step further and change the title tags & descriptions per page.

This is not an exhaustive list! Make sure you’re testing and on the lookout for other areas that could detract from your authority on the web.

Have any questions or different solutions? Feel free to leave them in the comment section!

About the Author: Lienna

Lienna is the Web Marketing Specialist at DKS Systems. She is an expert in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Online Marketing, and building a positive online web presence.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted 07/06/12 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Common Duplicate Content Errors Your Missing & Easy Solutions

    Errors YOU’RE Missing

  2. Posted 07/10/12 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Anonymous. You’re right- there was a typo. Thanks for catching it!

  3. mattS
    Posted 08/07/12 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Okay i read the article and i don’t have duplicate content now in my posts but I have to put instructions in the comments section which are more or less the same for all the posts with some minor changes or no changes at all.

    does this mean it ll be taken as duplicate content and be penalized?

  4. Posted 08/10/12 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt, I’m not quite following what instructions you’re putting in the comments section? If the content on the page is different, you shouldn’t be worried about duplicate content (due to the same instructions) on your pages. That’s a very minor issue and I would not classify that as duplicate content. If I’m not understanding this correctly or you have further questions, shoot me an email.

  5. Sharmpri
    Posted 09/23/12 at 1:02 am | Permalink


    Thanks for listing down all the points about duplicate data in detail. Its been a great help.However, I have one question , with pagination issue where lets say product category remains same but the result is displayed across different pages , how can we incorporate different titles ?

    Many Thanks for your advise

  6. Posted 09/27/12 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Sharmpri, I’m no developer, but I’m sure you can create a rule (or manually) enter different page titles for the different pages within that category. For example, you could have “Category Name, page 2 | Company Name” While this method would prevent duplicate title tags within your website, it wouldn’t necessarily solve the issue. I would recommend still adding the rel=next & rel=prev tags. Also, if there a “view all” for that category, the canonical tag should point there. Hope this helps!

  7. soba
    Posted 11/01/12 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks for listing the valuable points for Duplicate content. I have one doubt, unfortunately we are not able to add rel=canonical tag, instead of that we have change the meta keyword, title and description. Whether it is enough to escape from the penalty of google?.

    Waiting for your valuable comments… :)

  8. Posted 11/02/12 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Hi Soba,

    Unfortunately I’m not sure what types of duplicate content you are talking about. If you can provide some examples, I’d be happy to help. Just an FYI- meta keyword tags aren’t used anymore, so I’d just focus on making the title and description unique. If you only have a little bit of duplicate content on your website, chances are that you won’t be penalized. I believe that Google says that it doesn’t necessarily “penalize” sites that have duplicate content, but it causes other issues that prevents having a clean site to be crawled and indexed.

    Thanks for stopping by our blog!

  9. Posted 12/02/12 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    hi i run a word press eCommerce store powered by woo commerce . i have a large inventory of products most of the product description is same for all products and its mandatory to include it which creating a large duplicate content on site
    each category have 6 products i thought of a solution can you suggest which one is good
    1 no index and follow product page and link it to categories page using canonical tag
    2 index and nofollow product page and link it to categories page using canonical tag
    which is the best solution and is it a good practice to use canonical tag to link to categories page

  10. Posted 12/04/12 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Hi Prakash, I don’t think that either solution is ideal. If you can, I suggest changing up the product description to fit the individual products. If you’re using the canonical tag to point to the category level page, you’d be missing out on SEO value for those products. Best of luck!

  11. Sudhansu Sekhar Behera
    Posted 06/15/13 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    Some contents are BOUND to reapeat as listed below:
    Company Logo, Company name, menu structure, common text or image for all pages. At least company logo, name, address, and CURRENT DATE. To give unique content can you change your company logo, name or date, menu in every page. Do Google change their name Google to Foofle then to Eooel to Doodle in different page. Is that wise.

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