Thursday, November 13, 2008

Duplicate title tags / meta descriptions: Google Webmaster Tools and Blogger blogs (fix-it manual included)

Sometimes I receive very interesting e-mails or insightful comments like this: Have you found a solution to duplicate title tags/duplicate meta description issue?. I try to respond as extensive as possible at that moment, and often even dedicate posts to describe it in more detail.

So today's post in dedicated to Blogger generated "Duplicate title tags/Duplicate meta descriptions" warnings in Google Webmaster Tools.

I know how bad duplicate title tags and duplicate meta descriptions are, just give me "fix it" paragraph fast.

What is "Duplicate title tags" or "Duplicate meta descriptions"?

Search engines nowadays are smart. Very smart. However they are still what they are - machines. Sometimes they can't decide which exactly your page matches the search query the best - so they check everything that can give them more clue - titles of your pages, their meta keywords, meta descriptions - everything. However, if two your pages have the same title and same meta description, there is no such clue. That's the reason search engines consider duplicate meta descriptions/title tags as "bad", and can actually penalize you for that.

What is Google Webmaster Tools and how is it related to Duplicate title tags and Duplicate meta descriptions warning?

We all know Google Webmaster Tools. It is a great tool that gives you some insight on how your website is seen by Google (and can also give you some hints about up-to-date Page Rank of your pages (while toolbar rank is updated once in a couple of months, data in Google Webmaster Tools is more fresh, see "Crawl stats").
However, sometimes Google Webmaster Tools provide us with such an intimidating picture:
duplicate title tags/duplicate meta descriptions warning in google webmaster tools

(Numbers in this image are photoshopped, since after applying everything I wrote in this guide I don't have any duplicate title tags/meta descriptions issues anymore)

These numbers can indeed be scary.

Why it happens?

Blogger has a bad habit to refer to comments through links like this: Thus Google threats links like these as separate pages (while it is actually simply a link to an anchor on your page). Actually, there are quite a few other SEO problems in Blogger as well (doesn't mean they can't be fixed though, we'll see it later :)

How bad is it for SEO?

For every comment you have in your blog, Google thinks there exists another page with the same title tag and meta description, thus Google might decide your site is not search-engine-friendly. (Since it's actually one page, these "multiple" pages in Google's eyes will also have the same content, which can lead to duplicate content issue as well). Google Webmaster Tools doesn't show you any statistics about your pages that are considered 'duplicate content', however numbers of 'duplicate title tag issues' and 'duplicate meta description issues' might ring a bell and give you the general idea.

Ok, duplicate title tags/duplicate meta descriptions are really bad. How to fix it?

Basically, all we need to do to fix duplicate title tags and duplicate meta descriptions issue in Blogger is to hide links to comments in your posts from search engines. Content of the comments will still be in search engines because it is a part of your post page.
So the fix is performed in three steps:
  1. Edit template
  2. Wrap blog archive widget
  3. Remove or replace recent comments widget
Note: there is a small twist though: Google will still be able to dig some links to your comment pages from your comments feed (usually located at /feeds/comments/default).

Step 1. Edit your blog template

We need to hide the permalink to the comment from search engines:
(the link that says August 22, 2008 5:46 PM). However, we would still like to be able to link to the comment if needed, so the link should still be there for users.
I'm not a big fan of JavaScript because content generated by it cannot be used for SEO purposes, however this time we will use this weakness for our benefit.

So, open your blog template (remember to previously save it). Tick "Expand Widget Templates" checkbox, and find this code in your template:
<a expr:href='data:comment.url' title='comment permalink'>

It should look like this:

Replace it with the following code:
<b:if cond='data:post.commentPagingRequired'>
  <a expr:href='data:comment.url' title='comment permalink'> <data.comment.timestamp/> </a>
  <a expr:href='data:blog.url + &quot;#&quot; + data:comment.anchorName' title='comment permalink'> <data:comment.timestamp/> </a>

Save the template and check how it looks. It should look the same as original, however now timestamps should link to comments by their anchor ID's, without confusing Google crawler with ?showcomment= part. (In case multi-page comments are required, the long form will be used).
The described trick works in all browsers that I know of.

Step 2. Wrap blog archive widget

Blog archive widget for Blogger is very nice, however it has a bad habit of generating long links Google doesn't understand. This leads to duplicate content issues and duplicate title tags/meta descriptions. It is easy to fix, however: click the small wrench icon under your blog archive widget, and choose flat list option in the settings window:
Don't forget to press Save button :)

Step 3. Remove recent comments widget

Recent comments widget is made by creating a feed widget with http://<yoursiteurl>/feeds/comments/default url as feed source. It is nifty to have, however it supplies search engines with links to your blog comments, what we try to avoid (because comment content goes to search engines' index with your post page anyway). Either remove the widget or use the javascript recent comments widget. (The javascript one, however, might slow down loading time of your sidebar a bit).

After following instructions supplied here, Google Webmaster Tools will not bother you with the duplicate title tags/meta descriptions issue as there will be none (it takes time for Google to re-crawl all your site, so be patient, takes about 2-3 weeks). This will boost your search engine rankings a little bit since Google now thinks your site is "Google friendly" (and in fact it is).

In the next post I'll describe how to teach Blogger to highlight your own comments with different color/style, so make sure you subscribe to my rss feed.

Good luck and enjoy your Google Webmaster Tools experience :)

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Anonymous said...

For Comments I followed your tips but I got the following errors:

Your template could not be parsed as it is not well-formed. Please make sure all XML elements are closed properly.
XML error message: The content of elements must consist of well-formed character data or markup.

How can I fix it?

Cranked said...

I'm terribly sorry. It seems I felt into the same pit with autoformatting as described here.

The '(' sign was 'fixed' by editor so replacement code (the one that stars with <span class='comment-timestamp'&rt;)got garbled. Copy-paste the fixed code, and it should work :)

/Gary said...

what about just using rel=nofollow?

Cranked said...

Alain-Christian, rel="nofollow" attribute only gives Google a tip that it shouldn't pass PageRank from your page to the page you are linking to, however it doesn't restrict Google from learning the url you are linking to and crawling it later.
There exists a robots "META" tag that allows you to restrict Google from indexing pages you link to on your page, (META NOFOLLOW tag, don't confuse with rel="nofollow"), however there is one catch: you don't really want to hide all links on your page from Google (how will it crawl your site then? :)

Hope this answers your question :)


Guida said...

Thank you a lot! Since I changed my template, yesterday, I had 4 and today 8 duplicated content. I don't know a lot of html and I was going nuts. Hopefully I found you when I was searching for help. I hope that everything is ok now!

Anonymous said...

I like this, i will edit my tags,btw how do you think about remove NOFOLLOW tags.can you explain it for me, thanks a lot

Cranked said...

rel="nofollow" tag will not work for our "duplicate title tags/meta descriptions" issue - as stated in this comment.

You can find information on them on Wikipedia page and Official Google Blog on Nofollow.

In short: they were introduced to obliterate comment spam and protect webmasters from linking to black-hat sites from it's comment areas.

Radith Prawira said...

What is "Duplicate title tags" or "Duplicate meta descriptions"?
...and can actually penalize you for that

form what i just read on google webmaster's blog

...Let's put this to bed once and for all, folks: There's no such thing as a "duplicate content penalty." At least, not in the way most people mean when they say that.

i don't mean to offend you, i'm just confused.. and by reading that, i sure have scrapped other's content, my other's blog! in the same blogger account that i have ,which i have deleted that blog before reposted it in my current blog.

Radith Prawira said...

My mistake, i don't read the title clearly, it sure a different issue, my deepest apology for screwing it..

Tomaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tomaz said...

Hi Cranked.
Great great article but I am a little confused. I have on my blog a special archive widget instead of a regular one. It has the exact titles of all my posts because it fatches them from rss feeds. Can you tell me if this widgets is ok, or makes it bad for search engines regarding duplicate content?
Here is my blog to check:
www.pcterritory.netthank you so much

Cranked said...

Hey Thomas,

Your widget is ok from 'duplicate title tags/meta descriptions' point of view.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I can’t find the codes above on my template. As I am using the old blogger template. Are these instructions only applicable to the new blogger format? Is there a resolution based on the older blogger template? Thanks in advance.


Cranked said...

Yes, these instructions are for new blogger template format.

Alan Drisco said...

Hi Guys,

I am not sure if you guys have found the solution for duplicate description problem. Any if not visit my blog, I have post a simple solution to counter the duplication problem. Hope this will help.

Blog Know How said...

Thanks useful post. I have linked to it. Thumbs up!

Eletrobuzz said...

Hello i cant find the code. i use new blogger.
but difriend template maby for that?any help?

Friend4u said...

Nice Informative post !!!
I have 63 posts in my blogspot blog but only 26 url are submitted & 10 are indexed for atom.xml sitemap.Duplicate meta descriptions are 20.
Pls help,whether to go ahead with this trick ???

Wild River Guitar said...

This code worked and i hope that it will get rid of these annoying errors I think it's alot to do with your Template if you get errors Plus fire fox could not find the line you mentioned
a expr:href='data:comment.url' title='comment permalink
Because it's case sensitive
I had to take the Arrows Out

Cranked said...

I'm glad it worked for you, even though with some modifications.

PRC Board Exam Results said...

Thanks for this info. I've got some duplicate meta tags description...hope it will soon fix in a few weeks now using your method. Thanks :)

Neha Gupta said...

Thanks for this useful information.I've got some dup. meta description errors in my site, im sure now i can get rid of them.

tenovjkt said...

Hi cranked, thanks for your tips. But I can't find the HTML code for first tips. Would you help me to pind it? I use original blogger template with few modification for sidebars. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for great tip. We made the above said changes for our client and amazingly with in 20 days, they got ranked No.1 for one very interesting keyword ..

Thanks again for g8t tip. :)

And thanks to makemoneyonlinewithalan too for his meta tag duplication tip :)

David.kansal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David.kansal said...

this is just awesome.

my blog is

but i am unable to do the above aditing in my blog. plz see

we-winz said...

Great for tip...Thank you so much Craked..!!!

we-winz said...

Great for tip...Thank you so much Cranked..!!!

jyoti said...

hey cranked
i also have a problem in Duplicate meta descriptions & Duplicate title tags.

And in crawl error section all errors are related to label pages.........1 from these error is
myblogname/search/label/(label name)
URL restricted by robots.txt

please please help me to solve this


Cranked said...


myblogname/search/label/ should be restricted by robots.txt to save you from duplicate content issues. It is supposed to be this way.

jyoti said...

thanks cranked

but how can i clear this crawl errors of label section
Actually from 888 posts in my blog i have this 818 errors in label pages and 26 google reads and other are left
please help......!


Ben said...

Great info, btw does google index the content in html/javascript widgets available with blogger. If not is there a trick to index it.

Promo Code Land said...

Good trick brother it can solve my prob thnx...

Magic said...

great description i use it

abi said...

thanks it's what i need...but i think with wordpress,,,everything is fixed, with seo plugin..

webmaster blog said...

Hello admin. Thanks for dazzling post.
I need to ask that either a blogger should be do follow or no follow. I've made a blog but I've made it do follow. Is there anything troubling if I had made it dofollow.
webmaster blog

Cranked said...

If you dofollow spammy comments, Google may threat your blog as a spamlog itself.

bodybuilder workouts said...

hi cranked i have made what you said in this post two days ago but i can see that the new posts still having the title of the homepage :( shall i wait or what to do ?
n.b i have replaced the blog title with if conditional of page title and still the same problem

Cranked said...

Dear musclespro,

This article focuses on issues other than post titles. Thus, doing everything described in this article will not magically change titles of your post pages. You probably want this article: How to optimize your Blogger post page titles for search engines moving the blog name to the end of the title.

bodybuilder workouts said...

ok cranked done but i have a question now every post i made "the older posts" that's archieved in google will it change also or will stay with the home page title ? and if it's gonna change how much time will it take ?

jessica said...

I am using ultimate seo plugin, is there a workaround to avoid and fix duplicate content already reaches five thousand my content ...
please help me..

Sukma said...

My blog have 196 pages with duplicate title, can it fix using above method too? Why this think happen...I still don't understand. I never duplicate any other blog post.... please help..

Bodybuilding Workouts for Men said...

Cracked Me rocks! duplicate content is ok if you know how to use them properly

Anonymous said...

you said answer for only blog spot we expect from you more

Cranked said...

Duplicate content issue is only huge on Blogspot.

seo sydney said...

Wow!!! what an awesome point here. I found sort of errors that make my crawling stats suffer, “duplicate title and descriptions tags”. Looking for some reason in the net and evaluate the structure of my blog template I found these possible causes. Thanks for sharing this post so much.
seo sydney

iaaaz said...

Thanx for this , its really helpin me at

sarkari naukri said...

hey cranked nice article.but i am confused that i having different titels for different post but description and keyowrds are same so should i use it for better experiences plz rply me as soon a possible

Azib said...

Thanks for this useful information. I applied these tags in my HTML 2 weeks ago but nothing has changed since on webmaster tools. I have got 40 duplicate meta descriptions and right now it is 40. Can you tell me what should I do exactly or Should I wait two weeks more to see the results?

jessica said...

thank for tutorials......

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