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Duplicate content is again hitting the headlines around the net, this time for all the right reasons. In the past many believed that search engines such as Google penalized sites that had duplicate content issues – this is not true. That doesn’t mean that duplicate content is harmless, it can create a lot of problems for your pages.

Is duplicate content then an SEO issue or a web design issue. Like many things related to search engine rankings, it is both. Or rather, it is one that leads to another. If your web design, more importantly, your site architecture includes dynamic parameters then the chances are you will have duplicate content issues.

If you can see URLs that include question marks, strange characters, or have terms such as ?sid=12395923 added to the end – you have dynamic URLs. Yahoo! and Google allow webmasters to control what parameters in URLs they want ignored.

In Yahoo!, the option is available through Site Explorer. In Google, Webmaster Tools has the option under Site Configuration > Settings. It is important to control which versions of a page are indexed.

If more than one URL points to a page then you could be leaking link juice. The more link juice you leak, the lower your page will rank in search results. Control which pages are indexed and you will gain a little control over the flow of link juice – an essential component of SEO. You work hard for links – why waste them.

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