We have a site at domain.com that's been up for over a year and consistently been in the top 10 ranking.

We may have accidentally exposed our development site at domain.org for a few weeks last month and since the content is identical are wondering if that would impact the ranking of the original site at all?


Duplicate content is duplicate content. Having said that, if you were able to remove the development site from public view quickly, it probably wasn't around long enough to affect your main site's rankings. Additionally, your main site would probably not have been affected since Google most likely would have considered it the primary source of the information and would have penalized the development site as the duplicate.

One good way to guarantee this isn't an issue in the future, besides making sure your development site stays private, is to use the rel=canonical tag on your development site and make sure it points to the main website. Then if it is accidentally exposed again it will tell Google that the other site is the original source and to disregard those pages.

  • Thank you. How does google determine the primary source if the content is identical? How confident are you that the dev site would not have impacted rankings? Let's say it was exposed for 4 weeks for example. – DreamGrowers Jan 6 '13 at 17:18
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    I'm sure it's more complicated then we can guess but I expect a couple of factors would include which site it found to have the content first and which one has greater link popularity. I would assume both would be your main site. – John Conde Jan 6 '13 at 21:14

Once a duplicate is always a duplicate..

On a serious note, Google always stays updated. So, now the content which has gone up on the web before is considered as the Original Source and after this if the same content is found on web again, then Google marks it as Duplicate.

To overcome this Duplicate content Penalty use rel=canonical tag with the later contents. Now since you have missed placing tag, you should place it now and hope for Google to re-consider your website.

  • So it is safe to say that the dev site (even if duplicate content) did not likely impact the ranking of the original site. – DreamGrowers Jan 7 '13 at 20:22
  • Original site is nowhere going to be effected in any way. That's for sure. – Sidh Jan 7 '13 at 21:16

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