I feel the simple answer, to my question, would be a No! Simply because search engines do not want duplicate content in their results pages.

That said, I have come across a lot of websites which have duplicate content. Added to this, such websites seem to perform very well in search results. With this in mind, I am wondering whether I am overlooking something here. Maybe, my definition of duplicate content, differs to that of a search engine's definition.

Before I go ahead with an example, I would like to highlight that I am aware that this forum is for questions for sites whom the poster has control over. The example, with reference to a 3rd party site, is merely used as an aid in furthering my own site structural & navigational approach, to a site I do have control over.


Below, we have 2 URLs. Both leading to the same product; 'Coasters'.

  1. https://www.etsy.com/uk/c/home-and-living/kitchen-and-dining/drink-and-barware/drinkware/coasters
  2. https://www.etsy.com/uk/market/coasters

Firstly, are these duplicate pages? I have visited both and cannot see how they differ, apart from products being rearranged and the side bar navigation being different. Am I overlooking something here?

Assuming it is agreed that the above 2 URLs are duplicate pages, why have Etsy done this and how are both URLs performing well? I have checked the source code and the canonical link points directly to each duplicate page rather than to one 'primary page'.

At first thoughts, I am thinking that Etsy may have overlooked something here. With so many other sites having similar structures, I am wondering whether I am missing something here. As such, leaving me with a few questions of my own; regarding the navigation of the site I am working on.

As a caveat to my question, Etsy also seem to have facets which are duplicates of their product category pages. For example:

  1. https://www.etsy.com/uk/search?explicit=1&q=coasters&attr_357=286
  2. https://www.etsy.com/market/wooden_coasters

In this case, the faceted URL has a canonical link to https://www.etsy.com/uk/market/coasters, which makes sense. Thus, this just being their way of targeting groups of keywords. Thought I would highlight this, nonetheless, just in case it influences any forthcoming answers.

  • Your question is fine. Questions as to theory are answered here when the motive is clear and correct. You will see us close questions about theory where we feel there is a hidden agenda. That is not the case here. As far as e-commerce, the rules change a bit. Duplicate content is more tolerated. I do not follow e-commerce at all so I will leave it up to others with more experience to answer. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 1:03
  • Was there a canonical link on one of these example pages?
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 18:50
  • Not in the first two examples (primary question).
    – Craig
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 22:37
  • Well that blows that theory! I will keep thinking... if you smell smoke get a fire extinguisher please. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 0:44
  • The sceptic within, feels that search engines may be more lenient to 'big websites'.
    – Craig
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 0:21

3 Answers 3


Let's pretend for a second that the answer to your question is 'yes' and that duplicate content is okay (I agree with the idea that it is probably more 'tolerated' on larger sites, but in general we all know it is bad).

What would happen then is that you would have a bunch of pages ranking for the same query, cannibalizing each other and while you could take the short-sighted view of 'well it doesn't matter as long as they land on my site and buy something' it would be bad.

The problems it would cause are it isn't scalable, users would get lost and not necessarily engage with other parts of your site/brand, you wouldn't know what user journey's were the most effective making optimization a nightmare and quality would suffer. This would eventually hit you in the long term.

What I am saying is that I don't think it is just an SEO consideration and while there would be a short-term SEO boost, the long-term damage would outweigh that.

  • I agree with you here and fully understand the theory behind all of this. I just feel I may be missing something here, as I see so many established, and well ranking, sites going against many of these 'ranking rules'.
    – Craig
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 13:17

Creating duplicate content will surely affect your SEO for both posts badly.

However if the URL of the posts involved are different and there is a difference, even if its only a sentence difference, between the content this won't affect you as one will rank more than the other.

If the URLs and the content are exactly the same, it will cause a bad effect.

This is from my experience.

  • 1
    The algorithm for determining duplicate content is complicated and thorough. You cannot change one sentence and escape the duplicate content algorithm. Each piece of content must be unique enough to stand on it's own.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 18:53
  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. I have to back up @closetnoc here, in saying that said Algorithms are a lot more complex than your answer suggests. I noticed that you are new to Stack Exchange. As such, welcome aboard. The Stack Exchange forums, can often be perceived as being elitist. Do not be put off by the respondents who think their egos are bigger than the communities here. When seeking or giving out help, just try to be as thorough as possible in your questions/answers and you should be fine. If you have not already done so, have a browse over at: stackexchange.com/tour
    – Craig
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 0:41

Duplicate content refers to the pages with the exact same content that are accessible using different URLs. As I can see, these pages are not exactly the same. So, this is not called duplicate content, it's more likely called similar pages that cause On-page SEO problems.

What is the purpose of these 2 pages? I believe they are created for serving different purposes.

If that's the case, those 2 pages try to be as different as possible. For instanse, if these 2 pages are meant to show different products (like one of them for showing products with discount and the other one is trying to list all the products) it's ok to have similar (but not exactly the same) content on 2 different pages. If they are serving the same purpose (Please note that I'm talking about the purpose not the content), there should be a canonical page linked from both pages.

  • Thanks for your answer. What difference/purpose do you see? I can see one page has a 'Best Seller' and 'Related Links' section while the doesn't but, to me, that would not be a create deal of differentiation. I thought that maybe one site focused on '5 star reviews' while the other site had all products etc but that doesn't seem to be the case. Personally, I see no obvious difference between each page.
    – Craig
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 13:13
  • As much as I investigate I don't find any reason for that page to exist :) If there is actually no specific purpose for that page to serve it could cause problems SEO since both pages have the same title, meta description, etc. Commented May 31, 2018 at 13:54
  • Just what I was thinking. I guess any negative SEO is offset with their positive SEO efforts.
    – Craig
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:37

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