Many of my friends with small businesses have 2 or 3 website URL’s. I have observed that many times the content on their different websites are very similar if not identical. I try to educate them about the negative impact of having duplicate content on their websites.

Imagine you have a pair of identical toddler twins that look and behave very similarly. They have different names but for somebody who does not know them well, it might be hard to distinguish between them. To look after your twins, you hire a nanny and in the first week of her job, you explain what are the needs for each child. Since they are so similar and you have not explicitly mentioned the difference between the 2 kids, it is highly possible that your nanny might not be able to differentiate between the kids.

Search Engines face a similar problem when they come across websites with duplicate content. They are not able to figure out which site they should show in the results page when a user searches for a keyword. In early 2011, Google started penalizing websites with duplicate content.

Websites with thin, stolen, duplicate content or those having a high ad to content ratio are penalized by Google through the Google Panda release since early 2011 by lowering their ranking factor. This would help higher quality sites to show up at the top of the search results page


If you have 2 separate website URL’s and you serve the same content on both the websites, it is called cloaking. Google penalizes websites by reducing their rank score if they find more than one website containing duplicate content.

Content spinning

Creating variations of the same content on the web by changing some words of an article is called content spinning. A simple example of content spinning is changing the sentence from “The elephant sat on a wall” to “The elephant sat on a wall and I was shocked to see that happen”

Google’s guidelines on website optimization

Google has placed stronger guidelines on website optimizations and adjusted web spam factors like keyword stuffing, cloaking, unnatural links. So how do you avoid being penalized:

  • Investigate the keywords that are important for you. Create content keeping your keywords in mind. Do not create content first and then add keywords to it.
  • Ask somebody to review your content (or do it yourself). If it does not feel good, it probably is not. Make changes to your content.
  • Use title tags by putting your important keywords first in your title tag including your brand name.
  • Always use the alt attribute to describe your images with keywords or descriptive words


What do you do if you must have 2 websites containing similar information 

Many times it happens that some part of your business acquires customers through website A and another part through website B or if you have strong links to both the website. At times like this, figure out which website you would like users coming through a search engine to find you. Consider it to be your main site. On the other site, add the meta tag “rel=canonical”. Read more about it here.

Do you have 2 or more websites with similar content? If yes, what do you plan to do about it?

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