Shopify Struggles with Duplicate Content: How to Fix it?

Last updated - April 13, 2022

Duplicate content can be far more troublesome than you would expect. In terms of your overall SEO efforts, it could be a substantial problem. Now, in retail, in general, there are a lot of similar and same products differing in nuances (cost, description, etc.). However, duplicate content is something else entirely.

Duplicate content is a mirror image of something that exists elsewhere, and it is not looked upon kindly by Google. The way in which its algorithm interprets it is as something malicious. Even if that’s not the case, from the search engine’s perspective, it’s an instance in which you multiplied your content to artificially increase the visibility of your offer.

Sure, Google claims that they won’t sanction duplicate content unless the intention behind it is malicious. However, its ability to determine the intention is fairly limited. So, just to stay on the safe side, it might be a good idea to figure out a way to deal with duplicate content.

Types of Duplicate Content on Shopify

The first thing worth mentioning is the types of duplicate content that you can encounter on Shopify.

  • First, there are duplicate product pages. It’s content that is identical in every sense to that of your own. This is quite a compelling pitfall for a lot of marketers. Why? Well, mainly because it’s convenient. If it’s the same product, the features are completely the same, and there’s a good chance that the price is the same, as well.
  • Second, there are identical product descriptions. As we’ve mentioned, if it’s the same product that we’re talking about (a different vendor selling it), the list of features and even product description can be copied. Once again, this is often not done out of fraudulence but out of sheer convenience.

There’s also the phenomenon of the MyShopify version of your domain. While it is normal for Shopify to keep two separate versions of your website, you might have to go to an extra length in order to fix this issue.

In a scenario where this issue occurs, you will receive the following message – Traffic from your domains is not being redirected to this primary domain. All you need to do is click the ‘Enable Redirection,’ and the issue will be fixed. The ‘Enable Redirection’ command can be found in the ‘Online Store’ tab after you select ‘Domains.’ All of this can be accessed after you log in to your Shopify store admin.

Self-generated Duplicate Product URLs

When creating a category of seemingly similar products, every single product will be categorized as a duplicate page. This is a problem from Google’s perspective since the crawlers are distributed across these pages equally in an effort to index them.

Remember that not all of these URLs can’t actually be ranked. So, what you want instead is to direct them towards those pages that can rank. This can be a huge issue when it comes to your overall ecommerce marketing strategy.

The solution to this problem is quite simple, and all you have to do is adjust your Shopify theme files. What you need to do is go to the ‘Themes’ listed under the ‘Online Store.’ Then, you should pick ‘Actions’ and proceed to ‘Edit Code.’ After this, locate the ‘Snippets’ folder and pick ‘product-grid-item.liquid’ from the list.

Next, you need to adjust the code.

Change this: <a href=”{{ product.url | within: current_collection }}” class=”product-grid-item”>

To this: <a href=”{{ product.url }}” class=”product-grid-item”>

This way, all the product pages will link to the right URL path (the one that can be ranked by search engines). Also, it’s worth mentioning that this is one of the biggest duplicate content problems that you can encounter on Shopify.

Using Hreflang Tags in Your Theme

One more reason why the page might be considered duplicate is that you haven’t localized and set the user language right. By adding a hreflang tag, you will help your audience find the version of the page that is optimized for their own location. This way, they get the custom URL that you’ve made for their own country/language, which is great for those working in different markets.

Duplicate Content

One more thing that makes hreflangs insanely important is your international SEO efforts. If you’re trying to compete for rank in different languages, hreflang tags can help make this a lot simpler. From the start, by just sending the message to Google that this is not really duplicate content but an alternate page, it will keep you on the safer side.

So, what’s the problem with hreflang tags? 

According to numerous SEO experts (and even some specialists at Google), hreflang tags are one of the most complex aspects of SEO. This is due to the fact that they are, in their nature, bidirectional. This means that in order to implement them the right way, every single URL needs a return link to every other URL in this network. This may not seem like that big of a problem on a single page, but what if you have 20 or 50 different language versions on your site.

The best way to handle this is to hire a professional to tend to the matter. If you’re not a developer, your coding skills and understanding of HTML would have to be above average.

Troubleshooting errors with hreflang tags 

One more thing worth keeping in mind is that there are a lot of things that can go wrong here. If you’ve done everything right and there are still no hreflang tags, there are a couple of things you have to check. Start by examining:

  • Bidirectional links
  • Deleted pages
  • Self-referencing canonical links
  • X-default tags
  • Official language/region codes

All of these are incredibly easy to miss, even though they are also relatively easy to fix. Your first step in finding the solution to the problem is noticing there is a problem and tracking it to its source.

Get a plugin 

There is one more solution to this problem. Namely, you could choose to get a plugin that automatically adds hreflang tags. Sure, this is a bit more expensive option, but it can make your life a lot easier and minimize the likelihood of an error. Instead of investing hours of work into this particular problem, you can handle it all with just a couple of clicks (and a modest investment).

Shopify Tags and Content Duplication

One more thing you need to watch out for is the fact that duplicate content can be created by product tags. Seeing as how, on Shopify, tags create categories (consisting of all the products containing the same tag), this can be a source of potential duplicate content pages. Aside from Shopify design mistakes, this is one of the most important flaws for you to avoid.

Duplicate Content

The fix for this particular problem is fairly simple. You need to start by diagnosing the problem. Just because we said that this is something that could happen, it doesn’t automatically imply that this is the issue with your pages. If you notice that this is a problem, all you need to do is add a noindex tag via a specific URL path. Keep in mind that you might have to add several noindex rules to get things done.

Also, be very careful when using noindex. Doing this on the wrong page can ruin your SEO efforts by preventing crawlers from indexing those pages that you want to rank. So, check and double-check everything.

In Conclusion

Solving your duplicate content issues will be a huge boost to your SEO, as well as one of the biggest technical improvements to your Shopify presence. The key thing is that you try and understand why these issues happen, which should allow you to approach the problem in just the right way. Keep in mind that some of these solutions aren’t necessarily simple, but there’s usually a way to outsource, delegate, or pay for a plugin that can make it easier. In the end, as long as you get it to solve, how you solve it is of minor concern.

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