Duplicate content is a real issue online. Aside from the penalties Google can enforce on your website within it's index (should it suspect you of duplicating content), you, as a webmaster/publisher, have a responsibility to the rest of the Internet, to provide valuable, unique and interesting content that others can enjoy reading.
You won't be saving money in the long term
Some companies have more than one website, each of which is aimed at promoting a different aspect of their business. In many cases, the sites themselves feature chunks of text, pages and sometimes even entire sections, that also appear on each of the other websites. Whilst the copywriter/web designer may think he's doing you a favour including some standardised text on each site (saving you a bit of time and money), he's actually restricting your site's natural ability to perform, as Google will recognise that large portions of duplicate content feature on each site.
We've seen examples of this scenario on many an occasion. Fortunately, on the most part, the decision to include the duplicate content was made without a thorough understanding of the consequences, as apposed to including it with a 'black hat' SEO agenda. With that said, it is hoped that we are able to teach those who have considered employing this technique how best to manage multiple sites, deal with duplicate content issues and actually create successful online marketing campaigns.
Introducing the canonical url tag
Whilst the best way to avoid duplicate content penalties is to simply steer clear of replicating text, I appreciate that it is sometimes unavoidable. If that is the case, I'd encourage you to make use of the canonical url tag which Google introduced some months ago. In basic terms, this tag lets Google know that the content on the current page is not unique, and the actual source of the original article can be found elsewhere.
If you'd like any advice or direction regarding duplicate content, give us a bell!