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What is duplicate content and how can I avoid being penalized for it on my site?

I'm working with a CMS that allows me to post content in to multiple categories.

So, I have this link:

www.site.com/category/green-cars

Here are the GREEN cars
    TITLE: A Big green car
    INTRO: this is a great big green car.

But then I have this link:

www.site.com/category/big-cars

Here are the BIG cars
    TITLE: A Big green car
    INTRO: this is a great big green car.

So essentially - for every item of content, header and the intro sentence is the same regardless of the category the item appears in.

Will a search engine penalise the site for having the same content in this way?

I've looked at canonical links, but I don't think this is relevant here. All my content points to the same page - but the content may appear in multiple categories first.

Or am I worrying about nothing?

Thanks.

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marked as duplicate by danlefree Oct 14 '12 at 22:20

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
What do you mean by, "for every item of content, header and the intro sentence is the same regardless of the category the item appears in"? Can you get to the content with more then one URL? if yes, then it's duplicate content. –  John Conde Jun 24 '11 at 22:39

2 Answers 2

Google knows what blogs are, and knows that sometimes things end up in multiple categories, resulting in the index pages for those categories sharing some content which is usually just excerpts.

As long as you're doing this in good faith, you have nothing to worry about. If you actually are being penalized for duped content for whatever reason, then Webmaster Tools will tell you. (All of this covered the last three paragraphs or so.)

That assumes, of course, that you're set up with Webmaster Tools. But if this is a significant concern for you and you haven't yet, you should, because it's the only real way you're going to know that's the reason your ranking has dropped if it ever happens, as opposed to some other reason. Otherwise you're just speculating.

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Canonical tags are relevant when content is exactly the same and you want to tell Google which one to pay attention to..

The quote below sounds like you are posting the same content in multiple categories, but your examples show that the only things that are the same are the title and intro..

I'm working with a CMS that allows me to post content in to multiple categories.

Anyways, back to answering your question; I would do the following things:

1) Make your CMS handle unique headers and intro sentences so every page is unique.

2) Add enough quality content that both pages are unique and valuable to your visitors.

I am assuming your meta title and description are unique for each page..

Basically, as long the majority of the content on both pages are of quality and unique, you will be fine.. Duplicate content is exactly what it sounds. Duplicate. You don't have to worry about a couple sentences being the same.

Like mentioned above though, if the meta titles or descriptions are the same, you do have to worry about that.

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