Google’s John Mueller revealed in a Webmaster Central hangout this week that Googlebot is capable of recognizing duplicate content before it has been crawled.
A question was submitted by a site owner wondering if and when Google would consider a French version of a page to be a duplicate of the English version.
Can Google determine when multiple pages have the same content in different languages? If so, how is that handled in search results?
In Mueller’s response he revealed that, in some instances, Google can detect when pages share the same content without even having to crawl the pages. This is something worth being aware of, especially when it comes to the URL structure of pages.
Let’s unpack this and look at it from a broader perspective. Forget languages for a second. This particular example dealt with languages, but what Mueller had to say can apply to the content of the same language as well.
What Mueller is saying here is Google may determine a page has duplicate content if it shares similar URL parameters with pages that are no different from each other.
Obviously, this is not an ideal situation, as there may be instances where there are pages with unique content that have similar URL parameters as pages that are exact duplicates.Site owners can avoid running into the problem of having unique content dismissed as duplicate by paying attention to how URL parameters are generated by their site.
Mueller admits that it may not always be the webmaster’s fault when pages are treated as duplicates— sometimes Google as its own “bugs” as well.