“We Would Not Demote A Website Because Of Duplicate Content“ – John Mueller

Have always wondered how Google sees duplicate content and if using duplicate content can tank your site? John Mueller answers and provides valuable insights on duplicate content.
Marie Aquino
January 6, 2022

In the Google SEO office hours last December 31, John Mueller was asked if it was ok to use one product description for a variety of similar products which only has a different design, or if it would be considered duplicate content.

John Mueller answered that they would probably see it as duplicate content but they would not demote a website because of the duplicate content. What would happen is, if someone is searching for a piece of text that is within the duplicated description of the pages, they would recognize this piece of content is found on a bunch of pages on the site. This would mean that they would only pick one or two pages on the site to show, and not show all the other pages that has the same content.

So it is not that they would demote the website or penalize it in any way because it has duplicate content, only that a few pages will show in search, and the right page for it may not be accurately shown.

He mentioned that something to watch out for is if you don’t have any textual content that covers the visual element of the product. Not having the visual description in the text description will make it hard to show properly in the search results.

For example, if the product is blue shoes, and in the description, there is no mention of blue shoes, then the product will not show when someone searches for blue shoes.

He says that it is fine to have parts of the description duplicated, but you have to make sure that you have something in there that describes the visual element of the product.

That’s a lot of insights! And on the mention of making sure that the description includes the visual element of the product, it is also pretty much saying that you need to have your keywords in the description or content, in order to rank for it.

With regards to duplicate content, we’ve always said that there is no penalty for it, but as what he mentioned, having duplicate pages on your site may mean that the right page that you would like to rank might not show up. Another page with the duplicated content may show up, which is not what you wanted to rank, through the duplicate content filter.

In the SIA, we have also tested how much content is needed to pass the duplicate content filter and what we found is that there should be around 51% unique content and the rest can be duplicated.

As Mueller has mentioned, you can have parts that can be duplicated, especially for general product descriptions, but make sure that the content accurately describes and talks about the product in the page, in order to be shown when searched for it.

So based on our SIA testing, you can have 49% duplicated description, and the 51% can be your product description that specifically talks about that particular product.

Let this not limit you only to product descriptions for E-commerce, but for any content published on your site.