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The most important thing in terms of website SEO is not why Google was granted this patent but why Google felt the need to create it in the first place. When you take a look at Google patents and Yahoo patents, you can often get a good idea what kinds of processes are running at the core of the most popular search engines – and obviously this is a slice of information every website SEO professional wants to have.

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One of Google’s patents deals in part with potential ways of dealing with duplicated content – and where duplicated content is discovered, with ways of deciding which URL is the canonical one. This is important for Google because it allows the search engine to give proper weighting to the originator of a piece of content (the canon), while equally allowing it to penalize or ignore the duplicates.

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It’s important for website SEO because the way Google acts around duplicates and canonical issues has direct implications for the things we do on behalf of our clients, and the things we tell our clients they need to do when they build and populate their sites.

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For example, where multiple versions of a URL exist Google needs to know which is the canon. And website SEO companies need to know how to let Google know about the canonical URL.

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Google’s desire to find duplicate documents and content is also motivated by its physical requirements for disk space. In the back end of the search engine, large amounts of physical memory space are given over to crawling and indexing the enormous amounts of content that are added to the Web on a daily basis. Clearly if some of this content is duplicated then it becomes a waste of time for the search engine to do any of its work twice. So Google needs a trustworthy method for identifying work it doesn’t need to do.

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There’s a big difference between some types of duplicated content and others – both in website SEO and in site design terms (though as you’ll note if you’ve been reading some of my other posts, these two things are increasingly becoming one). Some duplicate content is perfectly normal and natural, for example the navigation bar that should appear on every page in your website. Google knows this bar needs to be there but it still has to crawl it – so it needs a way to distinguish between repetitive content that should be ignored and repetitive content that should give cause for concern.

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As such the actual patents Google uses for identifying duplicate content and then determining what to do with it are many and varied – and their holistic effect is what counts for website SEO. We know, for example, that bolt on text like navigation bars is not an issue in duplication terms – whereas content duplication obviously is. When we find out why and how Google separates the two things, we can develop techniques to work with it.

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