For awhile now, we’ve been preaching that duplicate content is one of the worst things you can have on your site if you want to rank well on Google. If you have duplicate content, not only will that content not rank, it can actually result in a penalty for your entire site. Sometimes though, you NEED to have duplicate content for things like privacy policies, so what do you do then? Google has the answer for your SEO efforts.
Matt Cutts just released a video that talks about what to do with necessary duplicate content like privacy policies, terms and conditions, user agreements, and other legal mumbo jumbo. According to Matt, Google understands that these things need to exist and they don’t result in a penalty of any kind.
“We do understand a lot of different places across the web require various disclaimers, legal information, and terms and conditions, that sort of stuff, so it’s the sort of thing where if we do not rank that stuff well that would hurt our overall search quality,” Cutts said. “So I wouldn’t stress out about that.”
There is still one way you can get penalized though, and that’s by taking advantage of the aforementioned mumbo jumbo to hide keywords. If Google detects an abundance of keywords in what should be pretty boilerplate stuff, they will recognize that as spam and hit you with the penalty.
So, to sum up: basic legal information that needs to be all over the site is pretty much the only example of acceptable duplicate content, just don’t try and get cute by slipping too many keywords into it.