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

What I would like to do is the following:

I have a website at http://dev.upcoming-djs.com which display a music chart.

And displays a music player at the right side.

I would like to make an URL like: http://dev.upcoming-djs.com/track

Which points to the same page only with the track loaded in the player at the right side.

If I understand correctly it isn't good (SEO-wise) to point different URLs to the same page (with same content).

Is this true? And if so is the penalty severe?

  • Is there a special reason you want to use an entire URL for this function rather than just a query parameter: dev.upcoming-djs.com/?track=whatever If you were actually changing more of the page content etc. I might see what you're doing, but it sounds like you're loading literally the same page with just something pre-loaded in the player. Canonicalization(below) is fine and all, but you should first question whether you really need multiple URLs in the first place.
    – Su'
    May 23, 2011 at 21:21
  • @Su': That's exactly what I'm doing. Query parameters? We don't need no stinkin' query parameters ;)
    – user6669
    May 23, 2011 at 21:25

3 Answers 3


This example is almost identical to what Google mentions in their canonical blog post. You want to use Canonical URLs for this. If you don't the page they include in their index may not be the one you wish to have shown.

Is it okay if the canonical is not an exact duplicate of the content?

We allow slight differences, e.g., in the sort order of a table of products. We also recognize that we may crawl the canonical and the duplicate pages at different points in time, so we may occasionally see different versions of your content. All of that is okay with us.

In your case it's just a different track playing.

  • Sweet! That's exactly what I'm looking for.
    – user6669
    May 23, 2011 at 21:26

let's say your urls are:

  • domain.com/category/something/a
  • domain.com/category/something/b
  • domain.com/category/something/c

then you have to define a canonical tag that points to:


so that even if google looks at the other urls you mentioned, it definitely know that they belong to the main-page defined in the canonical tag.

Here is the official google blog post and the explanation for the canonical url.

BTW, putting a rel nofollow would be unnecessary dangerous since they are somehow counted too and may have a negative impact on your SEO.

  • 1
    No, thank you -- if there's no one answering questions, then the site doesn't work. Plus, I know from personal experience how hard it is dealing with John sometimes (meaning he closed another question you posted this answer to as a duplicate), but he doing a great job all and all. Cheers!
    – blunders
    Jun 3, 2011 at 15:18

There are so many conflicting pieces of research on whether duplicate content is bad that I'm not sure that you should worry about it; especially as your second page isn't exactly the same. Make sure you put some different text around the control on the second page (if you can), perhaps a h4 tag saying the track's name, to differentiate it - or if you are just loading a track the meta data of the track may be enough to be different.

Duplicate is bad:

Duplicate is irrelevant:


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