Last week, we talked about the duplicate content errors that
can occur with URL structure. Like I’ve said before, the bigger the website; the greater chances of having duplicate content issues. That’s why ecommerce websites need to be built with SEO in mind and optimized to be user and search friendly.
Let me first define duplicate content in conjunction with this post. “Content that is duplicate or near duplicate in nature.” Often occurs with indexing dynamic content, specifically on ecommerce websites. To be a little more descriptive, pages with the same title tags, meta descriptions (and other similar on-page elements) that are unintentionally fighting with each other to be indexed & ranked.
Three Duplicate Content Issues with Your Ecommerce Site
1. One different detail for the same product.
Okay, so you sell a beverage product online. The product comes in two different sizes, and consequently the price and URL (ID#) changes with the size. Everything else on the product page is the same. Follow this chart if you’re a visual learner. Highlighted areas are the elements that both pages have in common.
|Beverage Product Page One||Beverage Product Page Two|
|Title Tag & Meta Description||Title Tag & Meta Description|
|H1 Tag||H1 Tag|
|Product Name||Product Name|
|Product Description||Product Description|
|Other Recommendations||Other Recommendations|
|Internal links (recommended products, etc.)||Internal links (recommended products, etc.)|
If you have Google Webmaster Tools for this website, they will recognize this problem and classify the error under “HTML suggestions.”
Easy Fix: There are two things you can do, here. You can add a rel=canonical tag to the page that you prefer- therefore, they wouldn’t be competing against each other in the SERPs and Google would recognize you prefer one URL over the other. OR, you can change the title tag and meta description along with any other elements on the page to reflect that although its the same product, it’s a different “type” because the size and price are different. Each decision has its’ pros & cons, but leaving it “as is” isn’t a good solution.
2. Printer-Friendly Pages
Of course you want users to be able to print a well, formatted page of your product and use as they desire; but they’re wreaking havoc on your SEO. Okay, so that’s a little dramatic. But, because your printer-friendly pages have a different URL, they are competing with the regular product page for indexing and ranking.
Product page URL: www.mycoolsite.com/products/name/8182
Printer-friendly page URL: www.mycoolsite.com/products/name/8182&print=true
Everything about the page is the same (content-wise) except for the URL.
Easy Fix: Good news, you have options.
- You can create a printer-friendly style sheet using CSS.
- Add a no-index meta tag to the printer pages to prevent Google .
- Add a rel=canonical tag to the printer page, referencing the preferred URL.
- Or block the pages in your robots.txt file.
Pagination isn’t really duplicate content, ‘per-say’- but if untreated; search and search filters providing multiple pages can display the same title tag and meta description but have different URLs. So in this case, I’m treating it as duplicate content.
Let’s say your website visitors can search by category (ie. flavor) for your beverages. That flavor category search returns 7 pages. The first few might look like this:
- First page displayed in search: www.mycoolsite.com/category/orange-flavor/3
- Second page: www.mycoolsite.com/category/orange-flavor/3?page=1
- Third page: www.mycoolsite.com/category/orange-flavor/3?page=2
- And so on…
Each of those pages have the same title tag and meta description, although they have different products.
Easy Fix: Some webmasters (and SEOs) use rel=canonical tags, referencing the first page in search results. Because the pages aren’t duplicate, Google suggests using rel=next, and rel=previous tags.You can also take it a step further and change the title tags & descriptions per page.
This is not an exhaustive list! Make sure you’re testing and on the lookout for other areas that could detract from your authority on the web.
Have any questions or different solutions? Feel free to leave them in the comment section!