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I'm working on the information architecture of a new website and have an issue about duplicate content.

I'm looking at having 3 main sections where users would go into 1 of the 3 sections depending on what it is they are interested in. It could be that the same user might visit one section one day and another section on the other day.

We have unique content that will only sit under 1 of the 3 main sections. But, we also have some more generalized content that is relevant to more than one user type and could go under more than one main section.

What is my best option here for the site structure?

  1. duplicate these general content pages across more than one main section?

  2. make an empty skeleton page under the relevant main sections and import / include the duplicate content from a single page?

  3. have an additional 4th general main section for the non-unique content and just provide multiple links to this content?

  4. re-consider the idea of having those 3 main sections if the content isn't totally unique to just one section?

  5. another solution?

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Duplication is not good - eventually someone will need to edit the content which could result in only one of your duplicated pages being changed meaning that you now have links in various parts of your site that claim to lead to the same content but don't.

As @dennislees has already suggested, your 3 and 4 options seem to be your best bet - If the content is truly global then it deserves a centralised area of its own where it can be linked to from anywhere else in the site. If it isn't truly global information then it needs to be placed directly with the content it relates to.

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In my opinion you should make an independent post like: http://midomain.com/my-unique-post.php

and use only the category for navigation. Don't include the category in the URL of entry

http://midomain.com/category/my-unique-post.php

that is a bad practice for SEO and Google (and others) could penalize the website.

i think In side of usability, if differents sections are more correct to mental model of user. And create there various main sections would help to find information faster. but remember not include the category in the URL. Regards!

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Your suggestions c and d are closest to the mark.

Your primary goal of avoiding duplicate content is a good one. Having repetitive sections on three important pages will compromise their ability to individually rank for any given keyword, and there's also the UX angle - once a reader realizes sections are duplicate they'll start to ignore them, and possibly other important content.

It sounds like you need a category landing page.

The category page fits into the structure above your more specific pages, and provides a location to present information about and links to those specific pages as well as general information relevant to them all.

This page https://www.globalsign.com/ssl/ (choose "1-5 Certificates" at pop up) is an example of what I'm talking about. There are links to deeper content (the specific products) and there's also general information that's relevant to all products.

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The key factor here is how likely individuals would end up viewing more than one section of the site.

If many users will likely encounter the duplicated content, then it's likely confusing and not much help to duplicate it. In that situation, focus on avoiding the duplicated content.

If, on the other hand, users are segmented enough that they likely wouldn't cross paths with the duplicated content, then it may be OK to allow it. Just be sure it's managed in one location so you don't end up with out-of-sync information across the site.

Also check with your SEO team to ensure that duplicated content isn't a red flag to the search engines.

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