January 16, 2008
Thanks so much for the work that you do. I have a question that I am hoping you can answer for me.
I have plain html pages that describe the various health-related products that I recommend. If one of my readers wishes to purchase a product, they click on an "order now" button, which takes them to the desired product at my shopping cart.
The description for this product is quite similar on both of the pages referenced above.
My question is this: In this scenario, do you know if I am in danger of Google and other search engines viewing one of these pages as duplicate content, and subsequently penalizing either of these pages?
No need to worry about there being a problem with the scenario you describe. A certain amount of duplicate content is normal and expected from any website. The search engines don't penalize for stuff like that. They may simply index and/or rank one of them over the other, but that's about it. It's definitely not a big deal.
That said, because one has to click on the "add to cart" button to get to the duplicate content pages, the search engines are probably not ever seeing them anyway. Add-to-cart buttons generally use scripts to ensure that the appropriate product is actually added to the shopping cart. Search engines don't have the ability to process scripts (nor would they want to). Which means you're doubly safe from any duplicate-content issues as far as the search engines go.
In thinking further about this, I'm wondering why you actually need the product description again once someone adds the item to the cart. You may want to think about that some more, as it's probably not necessary to have it there again anyway.