I am working on a multi-lingual website where the content editors sometimes make partial translations of a page where the majority of the content is still the primary language (English).

The website owner uses Siteliner to check their website and the reports often highlight the partially translated pages as duplicate content.

However we have no idea whether Google sees these partially translated pages as duplicate content and applies any penalties to them. We are using the Google hreflang meta in the HTML to identify/ link the translations.

I have talked to the website owner who agrees they are only concerned about Google penalising them for duplicate content. I cannot find anything in Google Search Console that suggests duplicate content is an issue.

Is there anyway to test a website to see if Google is detecting duplicate content/ penalties are being applied?


2 Answers 2


I'm going to go out on a limb here but I think your fears are largely unfounded.

My understanding is that Google doesn't actually penalize duplicate content, they just don't rank very well.

Think about the Associated Press, if there was a duplicate content "penalty" news outlets that ran AP published stories would get penalized.

Or hosting companies...how many have exact copies of the documentation for Apache, cPanel, etc.

Here's a Google Webmaster's Video with Matt Cutts discussing it.

What you're describing isn't spam so I think it more likely that they just don't consider a partially translated page to be unique/original/valuable enough to rank it well.

Human editing and translation into different languages is a time-consuming and difficult process and I think Google gets that (try looking up Google Tag Manager documentation in Russian and you'll see what I mean).

  • Google penalize duplicate content if webmaster try to manipulate search ranking, here is reference As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results. Whenever Google index any content, they assign initial value to that page, that value blackhat guy try to transfer on other pages for ranking.
    – Goyllo
    Feb 10, 2017 at 6:29
  • Yes but the key part is 'if they manipulate search rankings' which is what I meant by "spam" (because they refer to spam in the video I linked). It didn't sound to me like the author was describing spam or efforts to manipulate search engines.
    – adam-asdf
    Feb 11, 2017 at 19:16
  • How Google know it the webmaster is try to manipulate search ranking directly or indirectly? Whenever any webmaster create any content and it is index by Google, then Google give it some initial PR value to that page, and that value webmaster can transfer to another page by linking to their other important webpages on which they want to rank. And that all webmaster always do directly/indirectly and that is consider as spam. Webmaster don't know it's spam but when there are large number of low quality webpages link to other webpages on which they want to rank, then G consider it as spam.
    – Goyllo
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:25
  • The documents on apanche, cpanel is fine because they link to internally and not linked to other webpages on their site like, shared hosting, dedicated hosting, wordpress hosting etc. If they do that, then G consider them as spam. Duplicate content in some situation is totally fine, and google avoid it to rank, but when webmaster try to link other important pages, then it is not good practice.
    – Goyllo
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:29
  • This is purely my opinion, based on experience (and things I have studied like that video), but I don't think what you're describing is correct or feasible. All of those Apache/cPanel/AP documents, that are duplicate, have branded navigation/menus and sidebars. What hosting company has documentation that doesn't include a link to their homepage or to 'contact support'? There's a penalty for spam, not for duplicate content.
    – adam-asdf
    Feb 13, 2017 at 6:10

You mention using siteliner tool which checks only for internal duplciate content, however I will also talk about external duplication of content.

External Duplicate Content

Copy a paragraph or two of the content that is worrying you and paste that into a Google search.

Do you see your site coming up at the top of the search result? If not and there are other sites above you with the same content, then yes you have issues with external duplciate content and Google is not seeing your page as the original source.

This isn't necessarily penalising your entire site, however its penalising your site in the sense that pages that have externally duplicated content wont be ranking as well as if they had unique content on.

Internal Duplicate Content

Copy a paragraph or two of the content that is worrying you and paste that into a Google search using this search operator site:exmaple.com then type the paragraph of text here

Do you see lots of different pages coming up in the search results from your site. If yes then you may have issues with internal duplciate content.

The issue here depends on how much of content is duplicated internally. Is it wholesale sections of main content (issue), or is just some boilerplate content that appears on all pages, but the majority of content on the pages is unique (no real issue)?

Again, this isn't necessarily penalising your entire site, however its penalising your site in the sense that pages that have internally duplicated may not be ranking as well as if they had unique content on.

The main issue with large scale internal duplicate content, is that the incorrect pages may appear in the search results than what you would like to appear and/or pages may drop into Google 'omitted results' as deemed not relevant enough to rank.

So you can do some research, use the results from siteliner and search for that content in Google and see how you are ranking.

Are you not appearing at all, are rankings low, are pages ranking from your site page where you would prefer other pages to be ranking in their place, do you see some pages dropping into the omitted results, etc.

If you see any such issue, than fix as necessary.

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