Matt Cutts on duplicate content in news stories

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Duplicate content advice from Matt Cutts

Head of search spam at Google Matt Cutts has explained how to deal with minor duplicate content issues in order to avoid a penalty from the search engine giant.

Cutts made it clear in his YouTube video that he was addressing white hat, high-quality news publishers and providing advice to people who deal with the occurrence of short-term duplicate content when reporting on breaking news that has to be covered on numerous URLs.

"Rel=canonical" tag

The use of the "rel=canonical" tag to point to one main URL was recommended by Matt Cutts. It can help a site owner to make sure that in the future, when people are searching for the story, they are provided with the page containing the best information and overview of the news.

Providing further insight into why the "rel-canonical" tag should be used, Cutts said: "That will help clarify that, OK, I might short-term have some duplicate stuff while this is breaking news, but after stuff gets all cleaned up, this is the standard spot, the preferred location on the web where I'd like this information to sit."

He emphasised that by using the tag and also by not having too much duplicate content on a site, news publishers can best avoid a penalty from the duplicate content filter.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, has said: "Duplicate content on the web is not always bad, and it would possibly do Google more harm than good to penalise all incidents of duplication. However, the search engine does have the right to penalise site owners who use duplicate content in a bid to manipulate rankings."