Duplicate content issues occupy almost any work at home webmaster, whether if the problem is on his own website or across multiple sites. In an effort to be more transparent, Google has announced that it will notify webmasters when another site’s content will be prioritize above the webmaster’s, in Webmaster Tools.
Google refers to this prioritization as “cross-domain URL selection” and whenever their algorithm identify the same content on different domains, it chooses one and devalue the other pages with the same content. After all, Google doesn’t want to provide the same results to the users.
The new notification system suppose to assist webmasters understand better if there is some duplication problem with how their content is appearing from the search engine eyes. In the blog post and in Webmaster Tools Help, its been described what common reasons can cause this problem and how to fix it:
Duplicate Content On Multiple Sites- Some webmasters tend to submit their site’s content to other websites as well, for example, article directories, forums and social networks. Also, when moving the site to a new domain or displaying the content to few regional sites in different domains (domain.com, domain.co.uk, domain.net).
Incorrect Use Of The Canonical Tag- Using the wrong way the rel=”canonical” tag would probably lead to mistaken prioritization by search engines.
Hosting Misconfiguration- A problem with the server that will show due to error the similar content in different domains (mostly occur on cheap shared hosting providers).
Website Hacked- Hackers have implemented a rel=”canonical” tag on the site’s code which leads to other website or even created a 301 redirect to another site.
Content Scrapers- In “rare cases”, another site’s content may be prioritized over the original content. In this kind of cases, you can report the content scraper to Google and/or file a content removal request from Google.
The new duplicate content notification system in Webmaster Tools is another transparency improvement from Google that can surely assist us work from home better with our websites by identifying problems faster and more accurately.