Duplicate Content: How do identical posts appear in search results?

I got this question from a coworker trying to sort out why they were seeing two posts that were identical to each other in the search results right next to each other. They were stumped because what they had always believed about duplicate content and SEO was that Google would pick one or the other as the authority. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. 

How can two identical posts appear in search results right next to each other?

It’s complicated. It is rare for search engines to display duplicate pieces side by side like this since they don’t know which is the right one to show/exclude, but it happens. Social media content, especially LinkedIn posts, and news sources are kind of special beasts in this way. Think of a news story that is also published on multiple news source websites, and is word for word identical. This is the same situation. There are likely a couple of factors at play here, and this is probably a case of (1.) Google not knowing which one to exclude, (2.) the differences in the content venue (social site vs website) and perceived differences in user’s motivation w/ content consumption, (3.) potentially biased search results based on your behaviors and network (probably not in this case, but worth hypothesizing).

Additionally, there are much larger factors than duplicate content that Google is looking at, and DC is really a site quality issue. Site quality, depending on the issue itself is measured by both direct and indirect metrics, which requires site crawl frequency, manual checks, and a variety of indirect signals to detect. Duplicate content just makes it more difficult for search engines to decide which ones should be shown. A lot of the duplicate content issues we warn against are to avoid low value content, cannibalization and to ensure clear targets & topics for each page to avoid diluting value – this also helps keep people in line with addressing topical intentions from each pages.

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