Duplicate Content in Joomla and Why it Matters

A few weeks ago we mentioned that there was some good news for those people who have duplicate content on their site. A Google staff member mentioned that there was no longer going to be an active penalty for websites that committed this particular mistake.


Some people were happy. Some were dubious and belived the penalty still existed. Some simply said, "what the beep is duplicate content and how does it affect my Joomla site"?


This post is that for that last group of people.


What is duplicate content?

When a website has several pages, all with substantially the same content.


Why is it disliked by search engines?

Because spammers can use this to make their site appear much bigger than it really is to search engines. If you come across an apparently small site that has 50,000 pages indexed by Google, its a fair bet they are using duplicate content to trick the search engines.


Do you think the penalty still exists?

No, but I believe duplicate content can still cause you a lot of problems and that it should be avoided. Aaron Wall, writer of the web’s most popular SEO book, has recently mentioned that you can increase your search engine ranking, simply by preventing fewer junk pages from being indexed. Duplicate content produces a lot of junk pages and eventually Google’s bots will get tired of visiting your many useless URLs. 

Why is it a problem with Joomla?

Because Joomla has a tendency to produce many different URLs to just one page. We’ll use this page as an example. The following six

URLs can reach this page. Each URL has the same content and the same metadata. Its duplicate content hell:

  1. Regular, non Search Engine-Friendly URL
  2. Regular, non Search Engine-Friendly URL with a menu Itemid
  3. URL to make the page display as a PDF

  4. URL to make the page display in print view
  5. URL to make the page display in Print view with a menu Itemid

  6. URL with Search-Engine-Friendly URL component turned on

Adding more components can produce even more URLs.


How can you stop your Joomla site being penalised?

  1. Unpublish your PDF and Print buttons for all articles.
  2. Use JPromoter. Analyze your site and then go to "Optimize Your Site". Search by using "Group by Same Titles". Make sure you choose "No index" and "No follow" for all but one copy of each page. This means that Google should only index the pages you want indexed.
  3. Start your site right by choosing one SEF URL component and sticking with it as long as you possibly can. Different SEF components often render links in different ways.
  4. Instead of simply creating menu links to a component, create a URL link to the SEF URL for that component. For example, instead of having a menu link to "index.php?option=com_login&Itemid=65" you can have a menu link to "login". This makes sure that only the "login" URL is read by search engines.
  5. If you’re a spammer …. stop!

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