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I would like to add a smallish product section to the site with general info and already have set things up so I would avoid real duplicate content - different layout, different descriptions, titles etc. I now realised that, as it is a shared database, all the product images have url's from the commercial site, meaning loads of links going to the commercial domain.
I am therefore leaning towards blocking the directory containing the new product section with robots.txt & adding noindex tags to the pages. I don't really need to rank for these pages.
Would this be enough or would there still be a risk of some penalty?
Also I am not sure what to do with the 'landing page'. There would be a link to it in the menu, so on every page of the site (and the link-term would have to be related to the products). Should I add a rel=nofollow to that link? Or should I let Google index that page and just disallow all the other pages?
Could it be that just the fact that the second site would now also have a relation to this specific commercial sector triggers a penalty?
[edited by: tedster at 6:07 pm (utc) on Jan. 9, 2010]
[edit reason] member suggestion [/edit]
The rel=nofollow attribute is fine to add to the links - it would help to keep the urls from accumulating link juice and then potentially showing up in the SERPs as a "url-only" listing.
However, true duplicate content penalties are very rare. What happens (except in the case of serious spamming and scraping) is that all but one version of the content is filtered out of any particular SERP, but there's no penalty against the domain. See Duplicate Content Demystified [webmasterworld.com].
That thread is easily found through our Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.