On the Evolution of Clusters of Near-Duplicate Web Pages

  • Dennis Fetterly
  • Mark Manasse
  • Marc Najork

Journal of Web Engineering | , Vol 2: pp. 228-246

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This paper expands on a 1997 study of the amount and distribution of near-duplicate pages on the World Wide Web. We downloaded a set of 150 million web pages on a weekly basis over the span of 11 weeks. We then determined which of these pages are near-duplicates of one another, and tracked how clusters of near-duplicate documents evolved over time. We found that 29.2% of all web pages are very similar to other pages, and that 22.2% are virtually identical to other pages. We also found that clusters of near-duplicate documents are fairly stable: Two documents that are near-duplicates of one another are very likely to still be near-duplicates 10 weeks later. This result is of significant relevance to search engines: Web crawlers can be fairly confident that two pages that have been found to be near-duplicates of one another will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, and may thus decide to recrawl only one version of that page, or at least to lower the download priority of the other versions, thereby freeing up crawling resources that can be brought to bear more productively somewhere else.