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

I'm not referring to the duplicate content where you copy content from another site and publish it on your own. I am talking about original content that you produced. If on 10 pages on your site you have more or less the same content, would this affect your ranking with Google?

  • Ethically we should reduce spam by not allowing duplicate content. Search engines should be penalizing such sites due to this. So in my article directory if anybody ever publishes submitted article anywhere else I simply ban the account and remove the article. What's use of such duplicate spam content which causes simple users to waste their time in looking into both and also increasing internet bandwidth, disk quota and db site etc. – AgA Apr 25 '12 at 18:03


Any time you have pages that are substantially similar or even identical (through URL issues like www v no-www, https v http, query-string permutations etc), you are forcing the search engine to choose which version it should display in the search result.

If different versions of those pages have received different back-links, they are not automatically consolidated to the ranking page - so you are missing out on, and splitting, the search equity that results from those back-links. The rel=canonical link element helps with addressing that, but server-side remedies such as 301 redirections and rewrites is a better solution.

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Yes. Duplicate content is duplicate content. In fact, when Google announced canonical URLs it was only for duplicate content within one own's website.

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  • I'd like to pick up on that and ask what one should do if there are 50 different product pages which are almost identical, except in some small variations (colors, model numbers, etc.) it's impossible to come up with colors x model numbers unique product descriptions and using canonicals are useless, since one would not want to transfer everything to one single product? – David K. Apr 23 '12 at 11:46
  • You're example is exactly the scenario Google used when announcing canonical URLs (they are perfect examples of when to use them). – John Conde Apr 23 '12 at 12:40
  • Only problem is that Google did not provide a meaningful solution that is practicable. There is a reason why there are 50 different product pages ... simply making product variations selectable from one product page is no good. Sorry. – David K. Apr 23 '12 at 12:59
  • Canonical URLs let you have as many pages as you need. You just are saying one is the master page to include in their index. I'd say that is very practical. – John Conde Apr 23 '12 at 13:00
  • So what you are implying is that I am unable to have all my almost identical products indexed? Google's Gummy Candy Swedish Fish example is not at all relevant in this scenario. Try using this example instead: samsung-led-tv (red frame, model number AABB11), samsung-led-tv (black frame, model number AABB22), samsung-led-tv (black frame, model number AABB23 with remote), etc... the specs, the sizes and the features are the same, the products are different with different prices! People searching for "red led tv" will not find my products if I specify the canonical to samsung-led-tv (black). – David K. Apr 23 '12 at 13:12

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