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Overview: I am looking to host webpages that students make on our main website. (i.e. www.example.com)

Question: Since all students created the exact same website as their project. We do not want to be penalized by Google or any search engine for having duplicate content or any other penalty

Requirement: We would like to host it on our website as such www.example.com/student1name. Our preference is that our main URL is part of the URL.

Researched solutions:

  1. noindex: problem we learned was that this is just a suggestion to search engines and more importantly it just prevents showing the page, not taking it into consideration
  2. Having it on a completely different domain: we want to avoid this as it is a hassle
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  • Did you delete your other question at Stack Overflow? – John Conde Jul 19 '16 at 20:36
  • Use canonical url – Abu Nooh Jul 19 '16 at 21:01
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    Do you have a reference for the "noindex: problem"? The noindex robots meta tag (or X-Robots-Tag HTTP response header) is more than just a suggestion. It instructs search engines (notably Google) not to index that page. It will therefore not appear in search results and nor will it be "taken into consideration" (although I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that). – MrWhite Jul 19 '16 at 23:17
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    I agree with w3dk, a noindex on all the student pages would prevent Google from indexing them or using them as any sort of ranking factor for the rest of your site. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 20 '16 at 2:24
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From your reference to the noindex tag it would appear as though you don't need the student sites to be indexed. If you add all the student sites under a single directory such as www.example.com/students/student1.HTML you could then add a disallow directive in your robots.txt file for the whole students directory, this would protect your main site from any SEO issues that the student sites could cause as Google would not attempt to index any of them, only the main site but nothing in the student directory.

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  • I like the suggestion to use robots.txt. When Google can't crawl it, Google can't know that it is duplicate content. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 20 '16 at 2:22
  • This is certainly much easier than having each student or yourself put noindex on each bloody page! Cheers!! – closetnoc Jul 20 '16 at 5:32

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