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

Across different sites on different second-level domains exists a universal navigation bar with a collection of roughly 30 links. This universal bar is exactly the same for every page on each domain. The bar's HTML, CSS and JavaScript are all stored in a subfolder for each domain and the HTML is embedded upon serving the page and is not being injected on the client side. None of the links use any rel directives and are as vanilla as can be.

My question is about Google's duplicate content rule. Would something like this be considered duplicate content? Matt Cutt's blog post about duplicate content mentions boilerplate repetition, but then he mentions lengthy legalese. Since the text in this universal bar is brief and uses common terms, I wonder if this same rule applies.

If this is considered duplicate content, what would be a good way to correct the problem?


1 Answer 1


The duplicate content issue mainly focuses on the content.

There are lots of ways for the search engines to identify a bunch of links as "the navigation", be it the latest greatest HTML5 nav element, navigation-named HTML selectors or classes, grouped links with obvious names ("imprint", "about", "home", ...) or even the use of widely used jQuery plugins for dropdown navigation etc.

The major problem with duplicate content is that it may compete and the search engine may not do the best job and rank the duplicate(s) higher than the original one. Or it ranks the definitive unwanted version (say, for example, the printer friendly one). Things like that. (or, as the linked article states, if the search engine assumes you want to trick)

But as long as the real content of the page can be identified and the navigation is not the greatest part of the page you're fine.

The final question is: If you have the exactly same navigation on different sites: Is the content different? Is it unique? High quality?

  • The content on each domain is unique. The navigation is identical. Thank you so much for your answer.
    – Jon Harley
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 0:03

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