Cross-domain content duplication

It is pretty well known that content duplication is a problem in terms of search engine penalties. I used to search a lot about whether having the same content on multiple sites was a problem, and there was conflicting information on different sites about whether this is a problem or not. I initially read on some sites that this was not a problem, but then I read on Google’s blog that they did not really prefer to appreciate people who tried to hoodwink their search engines by having the same content appear on their search in different positions. In fact, if Google determined that this was done deliberately, then they would apply penalties. So, this would mean that if I placed my content on 2 sites and did so consistently, Google would consider that to be deliberate.
However, I read this post on the Google blog (link to post) where they explained how to make the cross-domain duplicate blog posting work, but for specific cases where the user may be trying to make the transition between one domain to another domain. This is still not a carte bache to merrily duplicate content across different sites. Some of the steps that are advised is that the user is advised to select the preferred domain, as well as handle the duplication of content within the site, and most importantly, use the 301 server side redirects.

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.
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.

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