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My site’s CMS has a manual page alias feature which is in wide use. I recently noticed that the aliased pages and the original pages are showing up in GA with separate traffic. For example:

www.example.com/subfolder/pagename.aspx

www.example.com/pagename/

these two pages are serving the exact same content from the cms, so it is in effect duplicate content which is bad for SEO. From this extremely helpful page it seems the best option is to add a canonical link to the header. Can anyone verify that as the preferred solution?

I would also like to know if this is a common problem among CMS platforms. The one we are using is called Ektron.

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another good article yoast.com/articles/duplicate-content –  Drai Aug 17 '12 at 16:59
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

duplicate content by itself is not 'bad for SEO' (unless it's done on purpose to manipulate search engines). It has a slight effect in that the SE may decide to crawl, say, 1MB from your site today, and duplicate files will mean that less of your site gets crawled. The other effect is that, when the search engine decides that your page shows as a result of a search, how does it know which of the two pages to show? (this is where the 'canonical' link acts. It tells the search engine "use this page", otherwise the search engine will pick one of them at random which may not be your preferred URL to show)

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Thanks for clarifying the duplicate content issue. I guess it is more of a problem between different domains. –  Drai Aug 21 '12 at 16:29
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I agree with @Rodolfo (+1). By all means use rel="canonical" on your pages to indicate the canonical URL. This will resolve any duplicate content issues with search engines.

However, since your pages are exact duplicates, differing only by URL, I would consider implementing a 301 redirect via .htaccess as well (or instead of). This would be more of a service to your users (if you have already implemented the rel="canonical"). Having a site accessible by two different URLs is just a little confusing IMO. It has happened to me several times where I have bookmarked a page on a site, only to realise later that I had already bookmarked the very same page but under a different URL!

If your content is already indexed under a mixture of both URLs... I wonder if there is any difference in how quickly the search engines pick up a change to rel="canonical" compared to a 301 redirect? To your users a 301 redirect is an instant fix.

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For Ektron sites I have worked on in the past, I would add a simple check in the page load event to see if the URL that the user is using to access the page is the same as the alias (if an alias exists for the content block).

Where a content block has an alias and the user is accessing the template directly, I do a 301 redirect to the alias. This is something you had to do in Ektron pre-v8.5

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