WordPress SEO – Duplicate Content Is The Biggest SEO Mistake

One of the main considerations when working on a WordPress site is duplicate content. For example, every post you create will also be posted on several other web pages within the site. Whether that post is shown in its entirety on all these pages, or as a shorter ‘excerpt’, is often controlled by the site’s theme. Some themes will let you choose, whereas others will not.

So What Does This Mean to You, the SEO?

When a post is made on a WordPress, it may be published on all of the following web pages on that website, and at the same time:

1. Homepage

2. Post page.

3. Category page(s). Posts are assigned categories, and the category pages show all posts in that particular category.

4. Date archive page(s). These are pages that show all the posts made on a given date.

5. Tag page(s). Tag pages are another way of organizing your content. You can assign several words or phrases to each post, and for every word or phrase, a tag page is created. These tag pages show all posts that have been tagged with the specific word. Therefore if you used a tag ‘blue widget’ on five posts, the blue widget tag page will show all five posts.

6. Author page. This is an archive showing all of the posts made by a particular author.

That’s six areas where the exact same post may show up!

If you assign just one category to a post, and one tag phrase, that means each post could appear on six web pages of the site AT THE SAME TIME. While I recommend you only assign a single post to just one category, tags are different. If you use tags, I’d recommend 3-5 per post. That would take the count up to nine or 10 pages showing identical content.

This type of duplication is bad (very bad!)

So the general rule that I recommend is to only include the ‘full post’ on ONE webpage of your site. On any other page where that post appears, you should be using excerpts, or in some cases just the title.

Having a high level of control is vital to removing this type of duplication, and the process begins by choosing a good template. The template should allow you to specify what you want posted on each of those six areas of potential duplication. I will therefore look at themes shortly, and explain what you need to look for when choosing a theme of your own.

First though, we should mention web hosting

WordPress Web Hosting

OK, so you may be wondering why I am talking about web hosts. After all, isn’t this supposed to be a article about WordPress SEO?

Yes, it is. However, the speed at which your site loads (and even the uptime of your site), are factors that are taken into account by search engines. Slow loading websites, or those which are unavailable for long periods of time (because the host server is down), suffer poorer rankings because of it. Sites which go down frequently, negatively impact the reputation you have with your visitors too.

There are many types of webhost, and lots of different plans that come with each one. You can get shared hosting, a managed or unmanaged Virtual Private Server (VPS), or a Dedicated Server. There are even some hosts that specialize in WordPress site hosting (although not all that advertise ‘WordPress hosting’ are setup specifically for it). I also know of one host that specializes in hosting WordPress sites that is built with the Genesis WordPress theme. So which should you go for?

Well, that will depend on how much money you have available for your hosting. If you have a good budget, I would recommend going with a true ‘WordPress optimized’ web host. Here are two of the better known options:

1. WPEngine

2. WebSynthesis – This is hosting specifically designed for StudioPress themes (Genesis Framework).

If you visit those hosts, you’ll notice that they are quite pricey, starting at $27/$29 per month for a single website. I have never used these personally, so cannot comment on their reliability. I do suggest you read the small print though, for whatever hosting package you decide to go with. The first host listed above has a price of $29 per month, but that only allows you 25,000 visitors a month in traffic. That is less than 850 visits a day, and for big, popular sites would be a problem.

Shared Hosting & Dedicated Servers

Most hosts offer a wide range of packages, from simple shared hosting, to dedicated servers (where you basically are given a computer and told to get on with it)

Dedicated servers, and unmanaged VPS hosting, both require a certain level of technical know-how, so I don’t recommend you consider those unless you are technically capable.

For most people, shared hosting will be the best option because of the lower costs, especially for new sites. However, shared hosting is generally the most unreliable in terms of uptime and server response times (how long the server takes to respond to a request to show your web page).

As you look for a host, if you know of a website that is hosted with a particular company, I suggest you sign up for a free (or paid), account at Monitis.com and setup a ‘monitor’ to check the site every 5 minutes for response time. This will give you a good idea of how reliable that hosting company actually is.

Two of the most popular shared hosting companies are Hostgator and Bluehost. I have tried both, and until recently, Hostgator was the one I would have recommended. However, they have since ‘upgraded’ the server I was on, and uptime and response times plummeted as a result. Here is a screenshot from Monitis showing the details for one of my Hostgator hosted websites:

screenshot

Look at all those peaks (these indicate when the server took longer to respond), and the small circular dots on the baseline (where the server did not respond).

The top graph is the homepage of the site. Over a 24 hour period, the homepage was down for 58 minutes, and the server response time was over eight seconds! That means it took eight seconds on average (although there are a lot of peaks over 40 seconds), to connect to my server, and that’s even before the webpage started to download.

The lower graph is an internal page on the same site. This page gets less traffic so should have better response times – which it does – at around 2.5 seconds. However, that page was down for over two hours in the previous 24 hours.

I moved this site from Hostgator to Bluehost, but I found Bluehost to be just as unreliable. I guess Hostgator and Bluehost (being two of the most popular shared hosting companies); have suffered because of their own success.

I eventually found a host that I am happy with.

The inner page was down for one minute, and response time was 0.65 seconds

You’ll notice that there were far fewer peaks in response times on StableHost, and when there were peaks, it was a maximum of around 6 seconds, compared to the 40+ second peaks on Hostgator.

What all of this shows you, I hope, is that not all hosts are equal. If you want reliable hosting, go for the best that you can afford (and remember price does not necessarily correlate with quality). My order of choice would be:

1. WPEngine OR WebSynthesis.

2. Enterprise level hosting

3. Shared hosting, but buyer-beware!

That is it and I will see you in the next post.