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I have a website with a collection of programming articles.

Some topics are broad, some topics are narrow. A broad topic generally calls for a longer article, while a narrow topic can be just a paragraph.

If a broader topic covers subtopics A, B and C, I'd still like to create three separate "satellite articles" for each topic, because

  1. I'd like to have coverage for search terms specific for A, B and C, and

  2. I don't want my visitors to have to scroll around to find their answer. If they have a question about topic B, it's best answered in an article that precisely targets B.

Think of it like the Main article... references on certain paragraphs on Wikipedia:

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At numerous places I've read that content duplication is terrible for SEO. So, my question is:

Does this approach with covering the same topic (sometimes verbatim) hurt my SEO?

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I have a site that uses creative commons articles as its content. The articles are great, and they are already ranking by another high authority site. Google indexed these pages from my site, but the traffic that it has sent them has been less than expected. The duplicate content issue is real for sure.

It sounds like you want topic-c.html to rank when someone searches for topic-c but you're afraid that the broad topic page won't rank for it since topic-c is at the bottom of the page. I think your concern and question is valid. I also think it's reasonable to try and rank the pages in the way that you're trying to do it. And Google will probably not penalize you for using duplicate content in this way.

A thought to consider though is would it be more beneficial to users to simply click on a link to #topic-c rather than directing them to another page? Having a user leave the broad topic page to go to topic-c when it could just be scrolled to with an anchor link isn't as useful, as it forces the user to use the back button to return to the longer broad topic article. At the same time, I do think it's reasonable to try and rank topic-c as an individual page.

  • Ok. Interesting. In my case though, I will only be duplicating my own content. This should be less of a problem, no? – aioobe Mar 10 '18 at 15:30
  • If you're duplicating your own content that is fine, but it's strongly advised that you add rel="canonical" tags to the head of the page. You might want to also add nofollow to the duplicate links if you want to preserve the crawl bot from crawling duplicate pages. If you want to have these duplicate pages that users can click to those topics through a link, you can always use anchor likes such as href="#alberteinsteinreligiousviews" – Michael d Mar 10 '18 at 15:36
  • It's more like I have Broad Topic Header...include(topic-a.html)...include(topic-b.html)...include(topic-c.html) in addition to separate pages for topic-a.html, topic-b.html, topic-c.html. So, it's not like one page is the canonical one, and I don't think #anchors would be useful to me either. – aioobe Mar 10 '18 at 15:42
  • I updated my post as my comment was too long – Michael d Mar 10 '18 at 15:49
  • A consideration would be if the OP cuts and pastes from one to the other, broad to narrow or narrow to broad topic pages. If the OP does this, some duplication is possible. Instead I suggest writing each page from scratch. Coverage of topics where there is overlap or added details is fine. Splitting a broader page into three using C&P would not work. If the OP covers the broader topic broadly and details the topics in detail uniquely, this is perfectly normal and okay. – closetnoc Mar 10 '18 at 16:50

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