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

I'm building a dating site at the moment. On the homepage I have a paginated list of all members on the site. Each page displays 10 members from newest to oldest. The pagination is simply "<< Prev" and "Next >>" links, so Googlebot should be able to crawl each and every member profile on the site.

Now the thing is, these profile listings also appear on other pages. A listing block such as:

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<IMAGE>

Jill / 28 / Straight
New York, NY

Likes: long walks on the beach, vodka
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Will appear on the Homepage ---> www.mysite.com/page/2

as well as on this category page "Women seeking Men" ---> www.mysite.com/women-seeking-men/page/3

So that's two places where the same listing block appears. Is this considered duplicate content?

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marked as duplicate by danlefree Oct 14 '12 at 21:55

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think it depends. I'm assuming that on the profile page there will be more information than in the profile blocks, with a full profile on one page, and just a couple pieces of information in the blocks, with a link to the full profile. This isn't exactly "duplicate content" in the way search engines speak of. The issue of duplicate is more along these lines:

http://www.example.com/members/Jill <- Full profile for Jill
http://www.example.com/members/2541451 <- Same full profile for Jill

That has the EXACT SAME content being accessible from two different addresses. This is actually what canonical URLs were meant for. To tell the search engine that a page is a copy and to provide a single address that should be indexed. A canonical URL is not something that would come into play for a listing block as you mentioned.

This is what Google says (emphasis mine):

Duplicate content generally refers to SUBSTANTIVE blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.

Source: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359

I don't think a short clip in a listing block would meet this description.

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