Duplicate content on an e-commerce site

Duplicate content in a website is a problem that can be more or less penalizing for the natural referencing of your website, depending on the proportion of duplicate content it contains.

Google has been tracking duplicate content in websites since 2011, with the implementation of its famous “Panda” filter, which since 2016 has been integrated directly into the main algorithm. This shows the importance of this criterion for Google.

Why does Google not like duplicate content?

Duplicate content consists of finding identical text, a Title tag or an identical Meta description tag on at least two pages of the same site, or the same text on two separate sites.

In this case, Google considers this situation as a lack of quality of the site. It will therefore degrade the positioning of the offending pages on the keyword they are targeting.

Here are some practical tips for avoiding duplicate content on an e-commerce site. 

  • One of the main areas where duplicate content can occur is in product descriptions. Avoid simply copying and pasting descriptions provided by manufacturers. Take the time to write unique descriptions for each product highlighting its specific features, benefits and potential use. This will not only help avoid duplicate content, but also improve your site’s relevance to search engines.
  • Use canonical tags: Canonical tags are an effective way to tell search engines which page is considered the original when multiple pages have similar content. When you have multiple pages displaying the same content, use canonical tags to indicate the main page to be indexed. This will prevent search engines from considering the content as duplicate and will help you maintain a higher ranking.

Implement 301 redirects:

If you have made changes to your e-commerce site, such as renaming pages or moving products, it is essential to use 301 redirects. These redirects tell search engines that content has been permanently moved to a new URL. This ensures that visitors and search engines are directed to the correct page, thus avoiding duplicate content.

Why are e-commerce sites particularly concerned by duplicate content?

This happens very regularly on e-commerce sites that contain product sheets with variations in their catalogue. The text description of the product is the same in different variations of colour, size or weight on each page.

Another very common reason is that many e-commerce sites with the same suppliers use the exact product descriptions provided by these suppliers to all its distributors (copy and paste = time saving).

Calling on a natural referencing agency can allow you to benefit from support for your digital projects.

What percentage of duplicate content on a site is tolerated by Google?

Google has never communicated a limit, but the observations of the SEO community over the last 10 years have identified a range of between 15% and 30% maximum of duplicated content in a site, in order not to be penalised.

However, Google regularly communicates that it favours sites with unique, quality content that is relevant to the subject matter (not written by software).

So don’t dwell on these figures and always aim to offer the most unique content on your site. This is the only way to be well referenced.


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