Finding Duplicate Content Using Webmaster Tools
Do you know whether or not your website has duplicate content issues? You could be battling the Google duplicate content penalty without even realizing it. Luckily there are tools out there that help identify copy issues so you can fix them before they harm your search rankings.
How to Check Duplicate Content with Google Webmaster Tools
As a website owner it’s very important to monitor Webmaster Tools (Google and Bing) at least once a week to ensure that your site is healthy. Google Webmaster Tools makes it extremely simple to find any optimization issues that are potentially detrimental. Once you log into your account, expand the “Optimization” dropdown from the left panel then choose “HTML Improvements.”
The data is broken down into Meta Descriptions and Title Tags. Duplicates, long, and short tags are usually bad. Click into any category and it will list all URLs that are red flags. From here you know exactly which pages need changes.
GWT detects whether or not your site contains duplicate content and will alert you through their messaging system. Although it won’t tell you whether or not a website has copied your content, it will tell you if their algorithms are picking up on another URL outside of your website, causing them to flag and/or un-index the page for which you are trying to rank.
When this happens Webmaster Tools strongly encourages the use of canonical tags or 301 redirects so website owners can specify to Google which URL is preferred. Read more about how to use canonical tags and solve content nightmares (if you’re your site is on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plug-in is an amazing tool that allows you to easily add canonical tags and do a full page analysis). Keep in mind that Google will only send you a message about this if there is a problem.
If you already suspect that a specific page is replicated, you can do a quick manual search on that page by typing in your address bar:
site:URL of the page in question
If you see a message in the search results “In order to show you the most relevant results, Google has omitted some entries…” you likely have copied content on the web. Copy and paste a couple of sentences from the page in question and do a search—the duplicates should then appear.
Webmaster Tools makes it easier to detect problems on pages that already exist, but to avoid duplicate content all together in the future take the extra few minutes to add a canonical tag or 301 redirect and save yourself hours later on.