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I am in charge of two unique domains - one on which my client sells activity packages, and the other where he sells resort information. One place shows the user what he can do and the other shows where he can stay.

He wants both sites to have common inter related content.

My questions are:

  1. If I create similar content pages with the same url (the domain name will be different of course), will I be penalised?
  2. Should I have canonical urls for each? How will that help?
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The answer to #1 is "not as long as you do #2"

Whenever you have duplicate content on different domains you want to declare one set of the content to be the primary and original source. This is your canonical link and you add rel="canonical" tag to let Google know how to treat your content. Or, as Google puts it:

"Of all these pages with identical content, this page is the most useful. Please prioritize it in search results."

Reference: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139394?hl=en

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