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SES Session: Duplicate Content and Multiple Sites
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
An interesting session about a popular topic. Duplicate content simply cause the search results to be worse than hey should be if there were only a single source of the content made available. Speakers included:
The first speaker suggested using the search engines to find duplicate content (look for duplicate titles and descriptions). For blogs, use Google blog search and alerts to see if there are any instances of duplicate content out there. You could also use services such as Copy Scape to see if anyone is copying your content.

As you know you should 301 redirect any duplicate content to the main source so that the search engines are only presented with one authoritative version of the content. Use robots.txt to ensure that duplicate content (print versions) is not going to be indexed in the search engines. Avoid URLs with session IDs.

Up next was Mikkel Svendsen who discussed technical issues with duplicate content. He discussed common issues such as sub-domains, multiple domains, sessions IDs, canonicalization, http vs. https etc. He stated the obvious that if you have multiple domains that you need to 301 redirect the duplicate content to your main domain or the content that you want indexed and ranked. He mentioned that test domains can be an issue when they get indexed as they are often not blocked from the engines. They should be password protected.

He pointed out that the engines are pretty good at dealing with www and non-www versions of the site. The issue arises from the linking issue as both versions are sharing the links and you should use a 301 permanent redirect to redirect non-www to the www version. Also mentioned was to watch out for server load balancing as this can confuse the user. With regards to http and https, you should use absolute links so that you have proper navigation, redirect all https to http. With session IDs, multiple variations of the page could get indexed (there was an example of the same page indexed in Yahoo over 200,000 times.) As a result Yahoo may penalize the site. For bloggers, ensure that you customize your permalinks structure. Mikkel mentioned duplicate concerns with breadcrumb navigation. If breadcrumb navigation is reflected in your URLs you may have a problem. Pages should only have one version! Plain and simple.

Benu was up next and discussed similar issues with multiple domains. She touched on ways that you can make your content unique:
  • have unique titles
  • have unique meta data
  • have unique SEO elements on your pages
  • simply have original content on your sites
The session was a popular one with it being pretty full. It was hard to judge the experience in the audience with regards to duplicate content but it did provide an indication that duplicate content is still a concern for many. At the end of the day, the best tip that we at SEO-Space can give you is to ensure that you have one final destination URL. Ensure that your pages have unique titles, meta data and copy on your pages.

There was some good information communicated in the session for site owners. The session was a great refresher and it was great to see that the practices that we use are practices that we should be using to ensure that our content will be effectively crawled, indexed and ranked by the search engines.


posted by Jody @ Wednesday, August 20, 2008  
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Name: Jody
Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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