Duplicate content is a topic that has been getting quite a bit of exposure recently. Google released some tips on how to avoid duplicate content issues, as well as a new tool to help you out also.
Google are at it again with a new initiative to help webmasters who have duplicate content across different domains.
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller explains more:
For some sites, there are legitimate reasons to duplicate content across different websites — for instance, to migrate to a new domain name using a web server that cannot create server-side redirects. To help with issues that arise on such sites, we’re announcing our support of the cross-domain rel=”canonical” link element.
If this news has gone a little over your head, then I would suggest starting at the very start with what the canonical link element is. Basically, it’s a way to avoid duplicate content issues, but until now, you couldn’t use it across domains. Mr Google, Matt Cutts explains the element in more detail here also.
Mueller has also provided some additional ways to handle cross-domain content duplication, which include:
- Choose your preferred domain
When confronted with duplicate content, search engines will generally take one version and filter the others out. This can also happen when multiple domain names are involved, so while search engines are generally pretty good at choosing something reasonable, many webmasters prefer to make that decision themselves.
- Reduce in-site duplication
Before starting on cross-site duplicate content questions; make sure to handle duplication within your site first.
- Enable crawling and use 301 (permanent) redirects where possible
Where possible, the most important step is often to use appropriate 301 redirects. These redirects send visitors and search engine crawlers to your preferred domain and make it very clear which URL should be indexed. This is generally the preferred method as it gives clear guidance to everyone who accesses the content. Keep in mind that in order for search engine crawlers to discover these redirects, none of the URLs in the redirect chain can be disallowed via a robots.txt file. Don’t forget to handle your www / non-www preference with appropriate redirects and in Webmaster Tools.
- Use the cross-domain rel=”canonical” link element
There are situations where it’s not easily possible to set up redirects. This could be the case when you need to move your website from a server that does not feature server-side redirects. In a situation like this, you can use the rel=”canonical” link element across domains to specify the exact URL of whichever domain is preferred for indexing. While the rel=”canonical” link element is seen as a hint and not an absolute directive, we do try to follow it where possible.
So, if you have duplicate content across your websites, then I bet Google has just made your holiday season that little bit brighter with this news.