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Each end level page on the site is dedicated to 1 product and contains approximately 50 - 200 word descriptions.
The navigation is not displayed on these end level pages.
I am considering adding the navigation to the end level pages as i feel it will increase usability.
I am not sure if this is a good idea though as it will dilute the content on the page and thus may confuse the message the page gives the search engines.
For instance a page on green widgets currently contains 75 words describing green widgets. Adding the navigation to these pages will mean that the page will also contain 200 words of navigation text, which although is slightly related, may dilute the meaning of the pages.
If you understand my ramblings and have any thoughts please share.
I believe that the search engines are doing a better job with spotting navigation and duplicate content. It seems they are able to spot the difference and navigation is a neccessary part of any page so should not be penalised.
As suggested, I'd try it on only a couple of pages and see what happens. Sometimes navigation can help a site get picked up for odd search phrases that it wouldn't have otherwise.