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Google Explains Duplicate Content SEO Issue

March 24, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – Most online marketers know that duplicate content can hurt their SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. But few SEO experts agree on just why that is.

Even Google’s Webspam Chief and all-around SEO go-to guy Matt Cutts isn’t entirely clear on the harm that duplicate content will do to your online marketing SEO efforts. (And part of the reason why is probably because Google is constantly shifting its algorithms.)

But in a recent interview with Eric Enge, Cutts does shed some light on the reasons why duplicate content should be avoided in your affiliate marketing website-building plans.

“Imagine we crawl three pages from a site, and then we discover that the two other pages were duplicates of the third page,” Cutts states in the interview. “We’ll drop two out of the three pages and keep only one, and that’s why it looks like it has less good content.”

Later on, when Enge asks whether linking “from one page to a duplicate page,” squanders a website’s PageRank, Cutts basically confirms this, but vaguely: “It can work out that way.” (The interviewer adds: “Yes, duplicate content can mess up your PageRank!”)

It’s certainly not out of character for Cutts to be less than direct when addressing these issues; his job is to keep Google’s workings top secret. So it’s rewarding to see some more direct explanations concerning how duplicate content applies to affiliate marketing:

“If you are operating something like a co-brand, where the only difference in the pages is a logo, then that’s the sort of thing that users look at as essentially the same page. Search engines are typically pretty good about trying to merge those sorts of things together, but other scenarios certainly can cause duplicate content issues … 

“If you link to three pages that are duplicates, a search engine might be able to realize that those three pages are duplicates and transfer the incoming link juice to those merged pages.”

So, while duplicate content may not be SEO poison, the consensus is that it’s going to mess with your PageRank and is better avoided. Read Enge’s interview with Matt Cutts here.