In a website with user generated content, I provide an author bio under every article on the site.

The author bio will be the same under every article the same author wrote. For some authors, the author bio is no longer then a couple of sentences, but for some descriptive writers, it is a good 100 words. These 100 words get repeated in almost 15 pages, some of them without substantial original content (such as haikus).

Will this lead to duplicate content issues?

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Theoretically, it can be considered as duplicate content but in practice, I don't think it can penalize your site on SEO-wise.

To minimize the risks:

  • for pages with thin content (I think about Haiku), ask your users more content about it (for example explaining where the Haiku comes from, why it has been created, in which case it can be useful to remember it, etc.)
  • ask your users to use/write a short and condensed version of their bio (for example 3 sentences max)
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If your website hosts thin content then a snippet such as an author bio can potentially be considered as duplicate content. If you have a decent amount of indexable content on the page then the author bio will not meet the threshold for duplicate content (which will be a % of the page's content that a search engine can index).

Providing you're publishing worthwhile content that is significantly longer than the average author bio on your website then there is likely nothing to worry about.

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  • There are pages with thin content. Think about a Haiku (a poem with only three lines) followed by a 100 word author bio. I i think I should now remove author bios from such pages. – Rana Prathap Jun 6 '14 at 7:56
  • Yes, in that instance, the author bio will outweigh the rest of the content and search engines will primarily see mostly the same content on each page. There are workarounds though of course, 100 words seems a lot for an author bio. – zigojacko Jun 6 '14 at 8:12
  • Thank you for the reply. You mentioned workarounds. Can you list a couple? – Rana Prathap Jun 6 '14 at 8:17
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    Sure - write longer content, reduce length of author bio's, load author bio's in a frame and noindex the frame, display author bio with javascript and block search engines from accessing. Of course the recommended approach would be to make necessary adjustments to handle the amount of indexable content on your pages. – zigojacko Jun 6 '14 at 10:43
  • The Javascript version might not work, seeing Google is testing the new Javascript-indexing too. – Frederik Spang Jun 6 '14 at 14:25

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