John Mueller from Google discusses how Google manages two websites with nearly identical HTML.

John Mueller from Google responded to the query of whether or not Google penalises sites that are almost identical. Mueller gave instances of various degrees of site similarity and recommended which one to avoid.

Will Google Rank Websites with the Same Design?

Whether two websites with similar looks might nonetheless rank in Google search was the question that was posed.

Although John also mentioned that possibility in his response, there was no discussion of whether the substance was identical.

No Implications for Looking Like Another Site

John Mueller acknowledged that if two websites have a striking resemblance, ranking in the search results won't suffer as a result.

With canonicalization, Google manages duplication

John's response is important since it sheds light on how Google approaches genuine instances of identically worded duplicate content.

When he states that it will canonicalize one version of the information in this instance, he implies that it will select that version to be used for ranking.

This can cause issues for websites that syndicate their website material, hence it's crucial for websites to mandate the usage of a cross-domain canonical by the publisher of syndicated content.

Why There Is No Penalty

Back in 2013, Matt Cutts, a Google search engineer at the time, stated that up to 30% of all web material is duplicate because it is the regular state of the Internet.

That figure was used by him to support his claim that Google does not punish duplicate material since doing so would cause innocent sites to drop in the results.

Is it punishable to have two websites that appear almost exactly the same?

No, as long as the substance is distinct from one another, is the appropriate response.