Does Google Give Penalties To Sites That Appear Identical?

Gary Green
Gary Green
November 11, 2022

One question that continually arises is whether two similar or even identical sites could both rank in Google’s search engine. For some time now, there has been a pervasive belief that any site that is the same as another will receive a Google penalty. Yet, according to John Mueller from Google, there are no such penalties. 

Mueller has been quoted as saying that there is no manual web spam action or penalty for having virtually identical websites. Rather, Google’s systems choose one page as its canonical page, focusing all of its indexing, ranking, and crawling on that page. 

If two pages are not identical, Google generally indexes both pages, although if a single document appears on two different websites, Google’s search engine chooses only one, showing it in its search engine results. In most cases, this isn’t a problem, but if both pages need to appear in search engine results, they must have significant differences between them, not only a different colour scheme or logo. 

The Process Of Ranking Websites

To understand more about how Google handles duplicated content and similar websites, you need to understand how Google ranks websites. 

Whenever someone searches for something on the Google search engine, the search engine returns results, with each one having a ranking depending on how relevant it is to the query. Each page’s rank is determined by a 3-step process that goes as follows: 

  1. Crawling – crawlers or bots are Google’s complex programs that sort through all of the websites and web pages on the internet to identify what information can be found on every page. 
  2. Indexing – once the information has been received by Google, it organises that information and stores it in the index database. 
  3. Ranking – when a user enters a search query, Google takes the relevant information from its index to display the results that are most relevant. 

Google has its own ranking factors that it uses to determine where a website appears in the search engine results. These factors include: 

  • The query’s meaning
  • How relevant the web pages are
  • How good the content on the web pages is 
  • How easy the web page is to use
  • The settings and context of the web page 

What Does Duplicate Content Mean?

As you can imagine from the name, duplicate content refers to content that has significant amounts of text that matches content that can be found on different websites and other web pages. Duplicate content covers everything from headers and footers to product descriptions and entire blog posts. In order for a piece of content to be deemed duplicated, it must either be extremely similar or entirely identical. 

Why Are There No Penalties?

As long ago as 2013, Matt Cutts, who was a search engineer for Google at that time, was quoted as saying that as much as 30% of web content around the world is duplicated, and that is the reason why Google has no penalties for duplicated content since innocent sites could lose their ranking. 

If There Aren’t Any Penalties, Is Duplicate Content A Problem?

Although the idea of Google penalties for duplicated content is a myth, that doesn’t mean that duplicated content causes no problems. There are several ways that duplicate content can negatively affect your ranking. 

Firstly, it will stop your web page from being indexed by Google’s bots. It also stops your web page from being ranked properly. Not only that, but duplicate content dilutes the equity of links. Whenever web pages receive backlinks, they get more authority via link equity. But if several versions exist of an identical page, other websites may link to a different copy of the page and that will dilute the link’s equity – a major issue if specific pages need to rank. 

How Should I Deal With Duplicated Content?

It isn’t always easy to solve issues surrounding duplicated content. Duplicates can’t just be deleted, particularly if they aren’t in your domain. However, you can manage issues like this by setting up controls to point to the original piece of content that tells Google to index that one rather than any of the duplicated pieces. 

The first step to fixing issues surrounding duplicated content is to determine where the duplicate content is. Tools can do this for you. Once you’ve pinpointed duplicated content, the next step is to set up 301 redirects which point to the page you wish Google to use as the canonical page permanently. Alternatively, you can use a canonical tag to indicate that this page should be considered as the original, with all others being only duplicates. 

Should I Worry About Duplicated Content?

It can be difficult to leverage unique and high-quality content consistently as a content creator or marketer. Since the penalty for duplicated content doesn’t actually exist, should you actually be worrying about whether or not there’s more than one version of your content out there online? 

While Google has no penalty in place to punish you for having duplicated content on your website, that doesn’t mean that no problems can arise that could prove to be just as damaging as a penalty from Google. Fortunately, if you use the tips that we’ve shared above you should be able to manage those issues effectively. 

By pinpointing where duplicated content lies and by setting up 301 redirects or using canonical tags to indicate which pages Google should consider to be the original for crawling, indexing, and ranking purposes, you can effectively overcome any possible problems that could arise for your website. 

Having an effective content marketing strategy couldn’t be more important for any online business today, and making sure that your content is not only valuable and engaging but also entirely unique is always going to be the best course of action. 

With entirely unique content you won’t need to worry about the potentially negative impact of duplicated content on your websites, and you’ll have one less thing to deal with to achieve your marketing goals. 

Tell us about your project...
Fill in your details to get started and join over 50 businesses enjoying Key Business Marketing's expertise..
Contact Form Demo (#1)
We adhere to strict GDPR rules and do not reveal or sell your data to any third-parties. For more, please read our Privacy Policy.
Latest Insights
February 13, 2024
A Guide To Using ChatGPT To Carry Out Keyword Research

Discover how to harness the potential of ChatGPT for advanced keyword research in SEO with our comprehensive guide.

January 12, 2024
Bolstered Advertising From Google On YouTube Shorts

Explore the latest Google advancements in YouTube Shorts advertising! Discover how Google is boosting brand visibility and addressing revenue challenges.

December 15, 2023
How Do I Manage My WordPress Website’s Email Services?

Learn how to effectively manage your WordPress website's email services for optimal performance. Explore the three methods of sending emails in WordPress

November 26, 2023
Monitoring Your Website Performance And Optimizing Accordingly

Explore the art of monitoring and optimising your website's performance. Discover dedicated tools to prevent downtime, enhance user experience, and meet Google's performance standards.

November 10, 2023
Project Magi: A Major Change To Google Search

Discover the revolutionary shift in Google's search landscape with Project Magi! This upcoming AI-powered search experience makes some big promises!

October 23, 2023
Top Tips For WordPress Security

Discover essential tips to fortify your WordPress website's security. Safeguard your site with expert advice in this comprehensive guide

September 29, 2023
A Guide To WordPress Maintenance Plans

Mastering WordPress Maintenance Plans: Organize your website tasks efficiently, from backups to plugin updates.

September 18, 2023
Solutions For The Most Frequently Seen WordPress Errors

Discover expert solutions for the most common WordPress errors and streamline your website management.

September 2, 2023
Top Tips For Managing Your WordPress Website

Master the art of WordPress website management with our expert tips! Learn how to streamline maintenance, boost performance, and enhance security

View Our latest insights »
Get the latest digital marketing insights delivered straight to your inbox
Newsletter Form (#2)
We care about the protection of your data. No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.
02037 282 848
Mon-Fri 9am - 5.30pm
Digital marketing guidance at your fingertips
Copyright © 2022 KEY BM LTD Reg: E&W 11055943
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram