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

While testing searches for keywords on my site, I notice that a mirror of it at http://a8.8d.344a.static.theplanet.com/ sometimes appears at the top result rather than my primary domain. It looks like this is an alternative address for my server. Will the presence of identical content at this domain and at my primary domain result in a Google penalty? If so, what can I do about it?

Thanks for any help...

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

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You might incur a penalty, which you can avoid by specifying the canonical URL on each page, so that Google ignores the duplicates.

Full details are here, but basically each page should include a tag like this in the <head> section:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.yoursite.com/path/to/file" />

But it would be better to use rewrites or name-based virtual servers to do 301 redirects from the generic domain to the one that you want to use.

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Thanks, accepted. I see Google also mentions these meta tags - google.com/support/news_pub/bin/answer.py?answer=191283 . Should we be in the habit of including them on our original pages? –  tog22 Jun 21 '11 at 15:53
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This wouldn't cause a penalty per se but it could cause the wrong URL to be indexed and ranking (as you've noticed is already happening). If you are the one managing the server you should at the very least 301 redirect all that traffic to your domain. If you're on a shared host of don't have access to the server/.htaccess ask your host to fix it for you, if they won't (I'd consider switching to a better host) the rel canonical would help.

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Thank you, that's a good answer too, though I've accepted the other one. –  tog22 Jun 21 '11 at 15:51
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