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Double Trouble: SEO duplication penalties

By 24 October 2012No Comments

It can be hard to keep track of all the many rules for search engine optimisation, especially as they do change regularly. But even if you can’t keep track of what you should be doing to optimise your site, you must make sure that you aren’t being unnecessarily penalised by Google.

Lots of people are aware that duplicating content is not a good thing, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is restricted to people who come to your site and copy your articles; you could be in real danger of duplicating yourself. And if you are, this duplicate content will definitely be harming your site and that all important Google ranking.

SEO Duplication penalties

How could you be duplicating yourself?


  1. Is the same as

If you think the answer is yes then you might want to check that you aren’t accidentally duplicating your website, because these are the addresses of potentially different websites. So if your site appears on more than one you are duplicating your entire website in the eyes of search engines, and being penalised for it!

The www. subdomain

In the first days of the web ‘www.’ was the standard beginning to a web domain. However, with the explosion of web addresses and the increasing need for more domains to be available the ‘www.’ beginning has become a subdomain – one of several options that you can use.

Now most people, when buying a domain, will want to control as many variations of their name as possible. So whether you type in or you will get to the right website.

This is where the problems start. Because if your website works under both www and non www domains (i.e. when you’re on your homepage you can see this name in the address bar) you have duplicated your site.

The solution: Canonicalization, or picking the best URL

There is a quick and easy way to ensure that you don’t duplicate your website and that is to canonize your URL i.e. pick one definitive URL for your website which is the only place where your website exists.

For all the other web address variations which people might type in that you want to come to you, simply put a redirect in place.

For instance, we decided that we wanted to canonize as our definitive URL. However, if you type in in your web browser you’ll still come to our homepage as we have an automatic redirect in place.

Quick checks and how to solve

The best way to check you aren’t duplicating your site?

  • Type in both versions into your web address bar on two different tabs.
  • Now check if you have the same web address in each address bar.
  • If you do, great – you already have a redirect in place.
  • If, however, you have two different web addresses working then you need to get rid of your duplicate site and canonize your preferred URL.

If you have a WordPress website you can solve this really quickly. Download the following plugin from your WordPress dashboard Now go to your settings and there should be an option for force www or non www. Go in and select your preference, and you’re done!

If you are hosted elsewhere then contact your hosting company directly. In some cases they will have a simple way for you to control this through your dashboard or CMS and they will be able to talk you through this. In other cases this is something which they can quickly do for you.

And for all new websites this should be something which your web manager should do as standard.

Need some advice?

If you’re concerned about how duplicate content might be affecting your website please give us a call. We’re happy to advise you and offer a solution.