What To Do With Duplicate Titles?

Out of over a million live articles, 13,915 duplicate article titles (only title is duplicated, content is unique) exist on 34,782 articles (3.5%) and we need your help to figure out what action to take.

History:

  • November 4th, 2005 we stopped accepting article titles that were exact-match duplicates of existing article titles.
  • This was a defensive position prior to our current proprietary anti-duplicate content filters & routines that was receiving heavy development later that month in 2005.
  • Early 2006-Today, we reversed our Nov 2005 position and began allowing exact-match duplicate article titles because we now had/have the capabilities to ensure algorithmically that the article body would not be duplicate or derivative of other works.

Why we’re thinking duplicate article titles are a liability?
(even in a world where we know for certain the article body is not a duplicate or derivative of any other article)?

Answer = We perceive that it’s better to have a site of 100% original article titles than to allow a small percentage of them to be duplicated. This is a perception not based on fact; but on belief that some traffic referral partners may give more weight to an article title than the article body and that ~21,000+ articles may be overlooked as not credible (therefore not indexed) even though they have quality original content in all of them.

How to solve this?
Here’s what we’ve ruled out so far:

  • Simple strategy seems to be to append something to the article title itself so that only the 1st time an article title is used, all 2nd uses of the exact same title will have some additional related-value text auto-appended to it.
  • What can not be auto-appended to duplicate article titles:
    • Authors name
    • Dates
    • Company Names/URL’s
  • What should we append to duplicate article titles: _____________________
  • Or take NO ACTION as we shouldn’t perceive this as a quality issue?

How do you think we should solve this problem?

23 Comments »


1
Allen Graves writes:

Hi Chris,

Interesting problem! I have a couple suggestions. You could take the Title and append a simple number to the end of it:

Teaching Your Dog to Speak
Teaching Your Dog to Speak – 2
Teaching Your Dog to Speak – 3

This makes it completely unique and the actual titles are not skewed in any way. Also, a single number will not have a drastic effect on any kind of title keyword density issues.

I would then probably automate a message to the author that you appended a number to their title, explain why and offer them the chance to change the title to a unique one.

The other way to get around it would be to do an automatic check for uniqueness at the point of submission. If a match is found, simply throw a pop up telling them they will have to change the title in order to make it unique. You may get negative comments from authors about this, because many of them place a truckload of thought into their titles and will not submit until they have a title they are in love with…but if you explain to them the reason, I’m sure they’ll comply. Why submit an article that may not be displayed in SERPs, right?

Respectfully,
Allen Graves

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 10:17 AM

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2
Blaine Moore writes:

I wouldn’t worry about it and wouldn’t take any action.

Alternatively, since you hand verify each article individually, you could have the article reviewer make a harsher judgement call on the 2nd or 3rd time a title is used to make sure it is 100% applicable to the article body. If so, let it slide, if not, then request a different article title from the author.

But, again, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 10:29 AM

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3
Thomas Cummins writes:

I agree with Allen Graves and he seems to make complete sense as this is similar to what domain title companies do to offset identical web site titles. Although when one browses titles in a library or large book store there are often books with the same title registered so it may not be an issue that requires large expenditure of resources to make your site more perfect than it already is. Leaving it the way it is offers variety to the reader on a particular subject that they may not already have considered. Giving them another view point so to speak.
3.5% is quite a slim margin but the above mentioned fix by Allen may suit your query.
Well tooraloo and all the best and keep up the good work.

Warmest Regards.
Thomas Cummins

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 10:32 AM

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4
Mario writes:

The problem with appending a sequential number is that each succeeding article could be misinterpreted to be part of a series, instead of the independent articles that they are.

If you focus on avoiding duplication too much, some titles of articles will become a ridiculous sequence of keywords, and that will decrease the likelihood that a website will want to publish it.

Random words work great for searches, but publishers are still going to want quality articles WITH quality titles, and requiring unique titles will inevitably diminish the quality of some article titles.

Solution: Take no action.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 10:59 AM

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5
Lynne Lee writes:

I agree that appending numbers could give the idea of an article sequence.

If the content is unique then I don’t see a problem with the title being the same, and I can’t imagine the search engines will either.

I wouldn’t spend the time and effort trying to sort this out unless you are absolutely sure it spoils SERPS.

Keep up the good work,

Lynne
articlewritingandmarketing.com

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 11:13 AM

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6

Nice problem to have really, because what this means is that enough writers think highly enough of EzineArticles, thus creating such a problem.

Perhaps my take is a little different – as an article writer, I would WANT to know if the title I have crafted is the same as another previous title. I WOULD NOT want to have the same title.

If I were to submit an article and get an immediate notice that my title already exists, I would find a way to quickly craft another title and move on, thinking what a great service EzineArticles provides to let me know the problem.

Might even wind up crafting a better, stronger title.

Jeff Herring

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 11:53 AM

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7

Agreed with Mario… that we wouldn’t append numbers to titles because of the ‘article parts’ thing, could be confusing especially if more than one author did the same article title with parts before we’d append more part numbers to it.

Jeff, we’re looking into your suggestion. Sounds resource intensive to deliver, but possible with some planning.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 12:59 PM

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8
Ed Bagley writes:

Ah, success. It causes such problems.

Perhaps looking at your company general account would relieve some of the stress of this “problem”.

Perhaps, when finished with this vexing problem, you could tackle the issue of overuse of toothpicks in the corporate lunchroom.

Seriously, I appalud your willingness to change, and your willingness to seek input, both of which may explain why your articles directory is, hands down, the best of the best and ahead of the rest.

Changing topics, why was there no big promotional push when you passed a million articles posted on your site? Or did I just miss it? Think bigger, not smaller. Market yourself not just as the “best” articles directory, or the articles directory with the “most” articles, but also as “THE” place to go for information on any topic at any time. Become the new “encyclopedia” of articles, continuing to be arranged not alphabeticaly, but by subject.

Ed Bagley

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 1:07 PM

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9

Ed,

Press release has been written; I’m holding it up.

Not certain we’re going to release it.

Many reasons…

All depends on what the ‘end outcome’ should be for the release. Quite a few of the end-outcomes that I believe could be realized won’t lead to furthering the current phase of business goals.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 1:33 PM

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10
Steve Hill writes:

Articledashboard already have a system in place where the automitcally reject an article during the submission process if it has a title that has been previously used. It therefore should be quite a simple process that does not require an editor to check each one.

As per the previous articles/titles I would personally leave them as they are – far too much hassle, time which could be better spent.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 4:02 PM

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11
Angela Booth writes:

I’d prefer you asked the article writer to change the title – yes this will delay article approval in some cases.

However, writers can check to see whether their article title is a duplicate by performing a search. If an article of the same title hasn’t yet been indexed, then the writer can be asked to change the title before the article is approved.

I don’t like the idea of adding numbers to the end of the article.

It’s a writer’s problem, let the writers fix it. :-)

Cheers

Angela Booth

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 4:44 PM

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12
James Drummond writes:

I think you should just leave it the way it is. I happen to have 4 different books all with the same title. When searching I used the author to find the specific book I was researching. Is there a way to tie key words to a title to help in searches. 3.5 percent is a very small amount. Just leave it the way it is.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 4:56 PM

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13
Merlin Avenell writes:

I vote for appending the date on duplicate
titles.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 5:43 PM

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14
Jan Verhoeff writes:

I agree with Jeff. I don’t want an Identical title hanging out there in cyber space. It isn’t that difficult to recreate the title.

In fact, I randomly look over my titles and if they seem to be lacking, I rewrite them.

It’s just good business, like writing a book – if the title isn’t up to marketing the contents, CHANGE IT!

I like the idea of being told – that title’s taken!

Thanks EzineArticles for some great innovations!

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 6:27 PM

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15
Jennifer writes:

To make things easy for EzineArticles you should reject identical titles. What % of identical titles are on highly viewed articles?

Why let an author do the hard part of picking out a great title and then allow others to piggyback and steal it?

At least reject titles that are the same and have 4 or more words in them since it’s less likely to chalk those up to “innocent” mistakes.

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 6:55 PM

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16
Allen Graves writes:

Chris,

If you leave everything as-is, then according to your theory, the author will be submitting the article in vain. Therefore, you have to do something.

I’m sticking with the simple pop-up warning at the time of submission. Is there a number to call in and vote? LOL

AL

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 7:18 PM

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17

I agree with Mario about the numbers. My first thought was that the articles would then look like a series.

I also agree 100% with Jeff. Let me know I’ve written a duplicate title. BUT isn’t it a good idea for authors to check on duplicate titles BEFORE submitting to EZA? Is there an easier way than just typing in our titles in quotes into the site search?

Deb Gallardo

Comment provided June 18, 2008 at 8:03 PM

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18
Martin Avis writes:

I’m all for change when it is intended to produce a clear and quantifiable result, but not for the sake of a supposition.

If your perception is based on anything concrete then I’d suggest that if a duplicate title is used it should be identified at the time of submission and the author notified and given the option of changing it.

If he or she decides not to change it for some reason, the onus is on them. But at least they have been warned.

Martin

Comment provided June 19, 2008 at 2:17 AM

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19

Steve,

We could easily reject articles with duplicate titles; but determined a few years ago that valuable articles with unique original content were being lost because of that rule.

All,

Thanks for the suggestion to prompt the author if they use a title that has already been used to encourage them to choose a new title, but not require. This still does not solve our perceived liability threat; but perhaps that perception is not real enough to warrant action.

Merlin,

The reason we won’t be doing a date inclusion is because we want the content to be evergreen… dating an article stops the evergreen intent.

Jennifer,

You asked a great question… One that I’d be a afraid to research and share the results for fear of system gaming.

Allen,

I really don’t think the author submitting a duplicate title article is submitting in vain… but I’ll probably need to do that study that Jennifer suggested to find out.

Thanks everyone so far! Excellent feedback.

Comment provided June 19, 2008 at 8:58 AM

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20
Lance Winslow writes:

One thing I have done personally since the original rule was to start lengthening my titles. For a couple of years I started using “:” and then “-” to make compound titles. I found after that I rarely made a duplicate title.

Now there are 100,000 authors, that’s a lot so there will be duplicates. Personally, with some 13,000 articles, I do not mind if anyone at EzineArticles modifies one of my titles to prevent a duplicate, others might care, I just do not.

Comment provided June 24, 2008 at 4:15 AM

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21
Paul Matthews writes:

I think you are getting too carried away. Duplicate titles should never be an issue when looking at the article as a whole. There are many excellent articles out there that have the same title, just like there are many songs and books that have the same title.

I think of it this way:

The titles can be the same, however, the actual voice of the articles are different.

There really is no need for this.

Comment provided June 27, 2008 at 3:53 PM

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22
David Star writes:

I think this issue with having duplicate titles is more a database solution if and when a person queries for a specific article the outcome would be the “title” but with the author’s name emphasized so it implies that each article has a different “author”.

I know this sounds too simple of a solution but it might work. Just like you have your comments starting off with “David Star writes:”.

Just a thought…good luck.

Comment provided June 30, 2008 at 11:38 AM

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23
slim Spray writes:

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Comment provided June 12, 2014 at 3:18 AM

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