What is Duplicate Content? How Much Can We Reuse Without SEO Penalities?

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This question seems to pop-up weekly with each client. How much is duplicate content?”  What can we reuse on various areas of our web site?

It seems there are no hard guidelines. The best advice I have read is that the content needs to be unique and valuable.


Google’s has its own duplicate content guidelines here and here. In general:

  • Avoid publishing stubs;
  • Minimize similar content;
  • Minimize boilerplate repetition;
  • Use Webmaster Tools to tell us how you prefer your site to be indexed; and
  • Be consistent on links.

Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. If your site contains multiple pages with largely identical content, there are a number of ways you can indicate your preferred URL to Google. What you want to avoid is content that is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic.

SEOMoz on the topic says this:”  “You need a non-trivial amount of uniqueness.””  Good video overall, go in about 5 minutes into the video and he talks about duplicate content specifically and how much.

Other ideas from SEOMoz include getting your user generated content (i.e. comments, ratings, voting, questions, reviews) to make pages different. Amazon does a great job on this.

Bottom line, “you need unique and valuable content.”

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