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Google’s Little Duplicate Content Issue

John Doherty —  May 29, 2011
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Google recently released and announced their “people widget” for Gmail. You can read about it here and here.

*Notice* The two articles are identical, but Google is not using a cross-domain canonical.

Google is creating duplicate content themselves by posting the same article on two different URLs!

The Issue

Google has released the same blog post on two separate domains. One is http://gmail.blogspot.com, and the other is http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com.

Here are two screenshots, comparing the two. Can you find a difference?


Here are the results when you search “introducing the people widget”:

This would not be an issue with this at all if Google would follow their own advice and use a cross-domain rel=canonical tag, to show which one they want to rank for the search. However, this is what the canonicals say:

The only difference I see is in the Title tags of the pages. This is the only area that may lead one to say that this is not TRULY duplicate content. But is this the case? Or is it actually worse, since the creator is trying to make it seem as if the two are completely unique articles? (And yes, I know that the two reference one another, but is that enough?)

To this I say, “Bad Google, very bad.” Why would you not use your own advice (Google Webmaster Central blog)?

Google even says in that post:

Q: Do the pages have to be identical?
A: No, but they should be similar. Slight differences are fine.

I see slight differences. Why is there not a cross-domain rel=canonical? This instance seems to be allowing duplicate content so that Google has a better chance of ranking for the search query.

By the way, when you search “people search”, the Gmail blog comes up 5th. What does this tell us about Google?

I guess Google really does have a duplicate content issue on their hands…


*edit* I should point out that I asked Matt Cutts today via Twitter if this is considered duplicate content. He has not gotten back to me.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/dohertyjf/status/74878989264617473"]


John Doherty


I'm the Senior Marketing Manager of HotPads.com, based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

2 responses to Google’s Little Duplicate Content Issue

  1. I just +1 the article to test it out, if that’s okay with you.

    Great website, by the way. I’m a freshman college student, learning SEO on my own time, and stumbled here via SEOMoz. It seems like your website might be good reading for people like me.

    • Thanks for the comment Sammy, and feel free to +1 anything on my site :-)

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