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We have an automobile website with a product page for each bikes/cars available in the Indian market. The product page has product description and different slugs to show other relevant products too i.e.

1) Similar bikes/cars in that budget
2) Sponsored bikes/cars related to the bike/car customer is currently viewing
3) Similar bikes/cars with better mileage

There are cases where the same car/bike is coming in all the above 3 categories and we end up putting 3 links from this product page to another product page.

Does that hurt SEO i.e. a page linking to another page several times? If yes, how can we avoid this?

Also, Category 2 is a subset of Category 1. We still need to have two different slugs as Category 2 i.e. Sponsored content comes on the top while the other 2 category comes relatively low on the page.

Do such duplicate linkages hurt SEO? If yes, can be put no follow tag on sponsored products links to avoid this SEO penalty?

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Linking to the same page multiple times does not cause problems. From the experimenting I've done, Google just ignores the second link in terms of PageRank and anchor text.

Many sites duplicate navigation elements. I worked with a site that had some of the same links in the left navigation sidebar and in the header. They did user testing and found that experienced users used the left nav because it had more links. New users usually noticed the header links first and would be confused by the left nav. They couldn't remove either set of links without hurting user experience. Linking to the same page twice is very common and nothing to worry about, it won't cause problems.

Can you use nofollow on a duplicate link to avoid problems?

NO! -- Using nofollow on one duplicate link causes Google to treat all the duplicate links on that page as nofollow. Why? Because Google views nofollow as a sign that the link can't be trusted. If Google can't trust the link in one spot, they figure they can't trust it anywhere on the page. It will cause Google to treat all the duplicate links as if they were nofollow.

Google changed the way the nofollow works. They originally said that it causes Googlebot to ignore the link. Now it causes Googlebot to throw away the PageRank that would otherwise be passed through the link. Because of this, there is no value in using nofollow on any internal links on your site. In may cases, doing so can hurt.

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  • Very informative thanks, can you point me to some source to read further, especially on the "first anchor text is retained" and for the new interpretation of nofollow ? Would be much appreciated ! Aug 6, 2020 at 9:40
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    The testing for that was done more than 10 years ago and was widely discussed on webmasterworld at the time. For example: Duplicate internal links and PR flow I'm not sure exactly how relevant it is today because Google since devalued almost all internal anchor text. These days only external link anchor text seems to change the keywords for which a page ranks. It is very rare to have the same two external links on a page, so it isn't as big of an issue anymore. Aug 6, 2020 at 10:06
  • Thanks a lot @Stephen ! And about "Now it causes Googlebot to throw away the PageRank that would otherwise be passed through the link" ? Aug 6, 2020 at 10:09
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    At one point I did my own experiment to test that. I set up test pages with some duplicate links and some single links along with control pages with only single links. I measured the PR of the (newly created) pages that those linked to. The pages linked from the pages with duplicate links got less PR overall because there were more inks (because of duplication.) However, it probably doesn't matter. Lots of things cause Googlebot to throw away PageRank: nofollow, robots.txt blocking, JavaScript links, etc. It doesn't seem to matter in a practical sense for ranking. Aug 6, 2020 at 10:17

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