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

I am building a website for a client and would like to have some tabs on each product page with the instructions, postage info, ordering info in, the problem is that most of these tabs are universal and will be the same across more than one product. Will the site get penalised for duplicate content and is there a way to point to the original content in some way?

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

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2 Answers 2

You won't get penalized but it's likely the duplicate pages will get filtered out. Use Canonical URLs to point to one page that should be considered the master page and shown the the search results.

EDIT

If it's just a tab on each product page and there is more unique content related to each product I wouldn't worry about duplicate content issues. This is common and Google is smart enough (so far) to know each product is different and not filter products out just because some of the content is identical. Duplicate content issues only come into play when the majority/all of the content is duplicated across multiple URLs. That clearly isn't the case here.

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I'm not sure Canonical is the way to go here, as I understand the question Tommy is concerned Google will filter out all pages with duplicate content, rather then index and rank them. Using Canonical will tell Google to do just that. –  Joshak Jan 28 '11 at 15:34
    
If all of the pages are the same then they're going to get filtered out as duplicate content no matter what as they are duplicated content. Since that's the case the goal is to make sure one page does get indexed so anyone searching for it finds it. Canonical URLs will do just that. –  John Conde Jan 28 '11 at 15:38
    
Perhaps the asker can clarify, I agree that what you're saying will work the way you're saying it will. I think the question however, is how can I add shipping information etc. to each product page for the benefit of the user without getting filtered out by Google. In which case Canonical URLs will not accomplish the desired result. –  Joshak Jan 28 '11 at 15:53
    
After re-reading the question I have updated my answer to fit better (I think) –  John Conde Jan 28 '11 at 15:59
    
@John: I think you mean "...wouldn't worry about duplicate content issues..." in your answer. @Tommy: I've done this on several ecommerce sites without any issues. –  Tim Fountain Jan 28 '11 at 16:16

It likely depends on how it is implemented. If it's only a small part of the content on the page it shouldn't be a problem, if it is most of the content on the page then it could cause issues. Most sites have one order policy, shipping policy etc. and just link to those pages that way users can find the info but it's not duplicated on every page. There are other alternatives such as JavaScript, pop-ups, or frames that can help keep Google from crawling that content that you may want to consider if the duplicate content is an issue.

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