Google’s Matt Cutts On Publishers With Duplicate Content: Use The Canonical Tag

google-matt-cutts-duplicate-contentIn a video released by Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, Matt said publishers who publish similar or duplicative stories on different URLs may use the rel=canonical tag to help consolidate the PageRank of the stories and avoid any issues with Google.

Matt Cutts did say that duplicate content won’t hurt you unless you are doing it for spam-related reasons. Cutts also did say that 25% of the web is duplicative, so you really don’t have to worry about it. But I guess in this case, to help with rankings, you may, as a publisher, want to use the rel=canonical tag to help Google know which is your primary page.

Of course, a site like this has dozens of articles on the topic of duplicate content. So should we use the canonical tag to point to one story or a category? Likely not.

For more on this topic, see our duplicate content category.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | SEO: Duplicate Content | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • JustConsumer

    What was the reason to post such dusty information again ?

  • Thomas

    what is the reason for putting that ridiculous (mess of a so called website) url in your profile everywhere!

  • JustConsumer

    Your question is off topic. Feel free to flood on )

  • Art Enke

    I don’t think this topic is dusty at all. Its surprising there are many SEOs that are brushing off external or internal duplicate content issues because this remains as one of the strongest opportunities to deliver a ‘win’ for clients.

    My favorite aspect of SEO is defining a clear canonical strategy and strengthening and prioritizing top content but to Barry’s point, the canonical tag element isn’t likely going to help (and can potentially hinder efforts) when you have a lot of related content on one particular subject.

  • Durant Imboden

    “Of course, a site like this has dozens of articles on the topic of duplicate content. So should we use the canonical tag to point to one story or a category?”

    No, because two different stories about the same topic aren’t duplicate content.

  • Jim Froling

    I’m confused (it happens :/ ). Matt says “consolidate the PageRank of the stories…”

    I read recently that Google kicked PageRank off the bus nearly a year ago (a shame). Or is that just the PageRank of websites?

  • Jim Froling

    I’m confused (it happens :/ ). Matt says “consolidate the PageRank of the stories…”

    I read recently that Google kicked PageRank off the bus nearly a year ago (a shame). Or is that just the PageRank of websites?

  • An Expert SEO

    So welcome duplicate content and bye bye innovation of ideas, words, phrases, sentences and content

  • setrends

    What you think about “Author Tag” to avoid duplicate content issues ?

    As We are thinking to use

  • Sophia Walks

    Being an internet marketer, I will go mad one day. So many algorithms and updates. Earlier duplicate content was a serious offense as if one with the same gets penalized and now that has gone legal. God saves SEO!!!

  • Srinivasan T

    There are many Google Updates for Past years. As a Marketer still more focusing on outdated tactics like Keyword stuffing, link buying and directories, etc.. But Content Marketing strategies is highly beneficial, when done right way.

  • Paddy Displays

    Google still uses PageRank internally, its the PageRank Tool that tells the public what the page rank of a page is, which is dead

  • Kumar

    No matter what updates a search engine rollsout – if you are
    following the best practice guidelines then you will be safe from future
    penalities. I think the main problem is majority of us try to find a
    loop-hole that may work today but not in near future. If we stay away
    from such practice then we do not really need to go mad – i guess. :)

  • Clements Marketing

    So this begs the question, how similar do articles have to be before they are considered duplicate content?

  • Durant Imboden

    Duplicate content isn’t anything new. What do you think an AP story is, if not duplicate content?

    There’s nothing wrong with the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times running the same wire-service story, and there’s nothing wrong with using the same manufacturer’s boilerplate catalog text as

    But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with a search engine’s filtering out the duplicates and indexing or ranking just one of each to provide a better, more clutter-free user experience for searchers.

  • krinalmehta

    It kind of freaks me out when I look at the extent at which Google is trying to seek help from webmasters to help them deliver better results. Just because Google cannot figure out the original publisher themselves, they need help here.

    Do a rel=canonical
    Do a rel=alternate
    Do a rel=previous, next and the list will keep growing.

    It’s time to act smarter!

  • Jesse Fogarty

    How would one avoid duplicate content in for a company who has let’s say a US and CAN website with the same product and therefore same description?

    In a perfect world would one be able to delegate one page the primary for each country?


  • Dan Ray

    As a syndicator of original content to larger sites, I just wish Google would credit the original source of a story, and not its duplicates on MSN, Yahoo, etcetera. Even though we write a story, Google will still rank the copy first, if the copy appears on a syndication partner’s site. What’s even more galling is Google takes the authorship published on our site, and puts the author’s picture on the syndicator’s link. And yes, we do use the canonical tag on our original version, but it doesn’t seem to help.

  • Daniel Benny Simanjuntak

    So if you’re concerned about duplicate content, using rel=canonical in these kinds of situations will help keep your websites in Google’s good graces.

  • Durant Imboden

    Why not simply require that users of your syndicate content use rel=”canonical” to identify the original version of the story?

    As for authorship, that’s about authors, not publishers, and what you describe isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

  • Ian Vaisman

    I’ve always been curious about e-commerce stores that are duplicated. Do you know how Google treats these? For instance I know there are businesses that own different brick&mortar stores (with different online domains) that have duplicated the exact same store online up to the products they carry. The only difference is a logo on the masthead. How does Google decide which to rank first? I assume a company like this doesn’t want to use canonical because they want to give all their stores the same opportunity.

  • Adam Lee

    For a comprehensive read on duplication and how to find it see :

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