Is there a duplicate content penalty?

The fact that duplicate content is not exactly good for websites is often mentioned. But is there a manual penalty by Google?

No. There are different kinds of a Google penalties, but a so-called Duplicate Content Penalty does not exist.

Internal duplicate content may well affect how a website appears in the search results, but it does not lead to a penalty. If there are multiple pages where Google finds the same content, Google may try to display the different pages in turn in the search results.

In the Google Webmaster Guidelines, Google warns against the wilful creation of duplicate content, as this may be penalised through various algorithms and filter, such as the Google Panda update.

So there is no need to worry about “accidental” duplicate content?

Google tries to filter out duplicate content to show users as few redundant results as possible. This already works quite well in most cases, but every webmaster should nevertheless avoid duplicated content on their websites.

Are there different kinds of duplicate content?

Yes. A distinction is made between internal duplicate content and external duplicate content.

Internal duplicate content can result simply by having identical content on the same website available under multiple URLs.

External duplicate content can occur when a website is available in multiple language versions, but appears with more than one language version in the search results on the same search market (e.g., in the UK).

Is duplicate content spam?

Matt Cutts made it clear years ago that duplicate content is not automatically considered spam by Google, which would be punished. However, anyone who gathers content excessively (by automated means, for example) without creating any added value can definitely get into trouble.

Checking your own website for duplicate content

SISTRIX Onpage projects enable you to find duplicate content on your website. They offer you an automated onpage analysis of your websites and show all SEO-relevant errors and notices.

Duplicate content is displayed in detail for each individual URL.

The SISTRIX Onpage project displays the error "Duplicate content".

Each type of error comes complete with its own explanation and concrete guidelines for improvements, which help to introduce you to the Onpage optimisation for your website.

In the free trial phase of SISTRIX, you have access to all modules – including the Onpage analysis projects wherein you can examine your website for duplicate content, among other things. Try SISTRIX for free in the two-week trial period – without any hidden costs or subscriptions.

What Google says

Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.

Source: Search Console Help

Video explanation from Matt Cutts / Google on this subject

Further information on this topic: