Debunking the Duplicate Content Myth

By Posted in - Web Design Tips on November 7th, 2009 0 Comments

For years, webmasters have speculated that Google penalizes websites for duplicate content. Not so, states Greg Grothaus of Google’s Search Quality team who has posted a video on the duplicate content myth and gives ways on how to avoid ranking issues.

Grothaus states that Google does NOT penalize sites for having duplicate content and that even spam sites aren’t penalized by Google for duplicate content—they are being penalized for the spam itself.
Some webmasters will use several different URL’s that are different, but show the same content. You won’t be penalized for using more than one, but your link popularity may be diluted which can negatively affect your rankings. Backlinks pointing to several different URL versions of the same content will make it harder to accumulate link juice for one URL. Non-friendly URL’s in search results can also decrease usability and Google will spend more time crawling the same content and not index the content that really matters.

To avoid these issues, Grothaus suggests picking one “canonical” version of the url for each page and link consistently within your site. You can also use the rel=”canonical” link element, but only use it between pages that are on the same domain, and it can be used on https:// and for ports as well. Another option is to make all non-canonical URLs do a permanent (301) redirect to the canonical (or preferred) URL. You don’t have to use it, states Grothaus, but it’s just another tool in your arsenal that can give you better search engine results. For more on duplicate content and ranking issues check out Greg Grothaus presentation in the video below.

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