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Duplicate Content Vs. Usability
Posted 09 January 2009 - 12:27 PM
So they've got plenty of duplicate content, but I'm finding that Google isn't being overly picky -- for every duplicate page I check, big G has a cached copy.
I could easily set up 301s so users would still be able to access a given product from multiple paths, but they'd always end up on the same product page, thus concentrating the internal link juice for that page, but I'm concerned that that might cause usability issues. If a user clicks through to a product's page from the Clearance area for example and I send them to that product's main URL rather than the duplicate page that contains "Clearance" in the URL, then should they choose to go back to the main Clearance area via the breadcrumb trail they're not going to see "Clearance" in the path, one level above the current page.
What do you think -- is it worth losing that aspect of usability? Is there another way around this? Since all the pages are getting indexed, I could just leave it as it is, but I figure this has to be diluting the strength of the product pages.
Posted 11 January 2009 - 01:50 PM
I'd personally always want only one URL for any user to end up at. If you could manage to do that without messing up breadcrumbs and stuff, that would be the way to do it.
Posted 11 January 2009 - 06:24 PM
What I mean by that is most carts these days allow the webmaster to include products in more than one category, which typically results in essentially duplicate pages. Using this for some things isn't a bad thing, especially from a Users perspective. And I've not seen any search engines having major issues with it either.
As a for instance, I'll use the old prom dress site I used to work on as example again. There each Dress Designer has their own category. Then there are also categories of Dress that are currently In Stock and available for immediate shipment (only in the size/color in stock, but all the rest is the same) and also an On Sale category for dresses that were left over from last year.
Thus it's entirely possible that several hundred dresses appear in two of these general cats (the Designer Name and In Stock) and in the case of last year's styles there would be in three different cats: Designer, In Stock and On Sale.
In short, there are literally hundreds of pages that are duplicated at the product level. But it's kind of necessary from the customers perspective. Some users don't care if it's this years hot style or not, and want something quality but at a great price. Others are pressed for time and don't have the 8 weeks to wait from something to come from the Designer's warehouse, so need to find something In Stock that can be shipped to arrive in a few days.
The duplication is necessary to best service users.
A point to make though is that even though there are hundreds of duplicate pages this number pales when you consider that the site has a total of just shy of 20,000 pages. All of which are indexed.
This sort of situation is one where I've never seen the search engines balk at doing deep crawls and indexing all pages, even if they have some of them already under another url. FTR, I did make sure the cart has the ability to show the Category name at the top of the page as part of the headline. Not just in the breadcrumb, but as part of the actual page content. Along with some other information about the product of course. So that may have some bearing on the equation.
I suspect if you ended up with a situation where every product appeared in 2 or 3 different categories it would not only become confusing for Users, but might also start freaking out the search engines a bit. I guess the trick is to make sure however is setting up the cats and entering the product information makes wise choices when considering whether a product truly belongs in a couple of different categories. Or if one categories basically mirrors another one whether both are really needed or should be combined.
I don't have any hands on experience with that type of mass duplication, because I'd never let it get that bad in the first place. Not because of the search engines but because I think it would quickly confuse real visitors.
Posted 12 January 2009 - 01:25 PM
My new system does something similar.
Posted 12 January 2009 - 01:52 PM
Posted 12 January 2009 - 02:14 PM
Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:54 PM
I mean we're only talking about 1-3 words additional difference. Sure it's in a <Hx> tag and now that I look at it again also in the <title> tag, but still the page content is essentially the same.
Since they do all seem to get indexed I suppose those tiny differences could have an impact on which pages show up in the SERPs for certain longtail keyword searches. Even if they are very, very similar to other pages. Honestly I'm not dug into the situation or the stats nearly that deeply.
Posted 13 January 2009 - 11:52 AM
Posted 13 January 2009 - 04:41 PM
Do you find that that causes problems with elements like breadcrumbs (if you use breadcrumbs)? That is, the user is in the catnip category, where the breadcrumb trail reads home > shop > catnip items, they click a product, get taken to a particular page for a catnip toy in the toys category, and the breadcrumb trail reads home > shop > toys > squeaky mouse catnip toy rather than home > shop > catnip items > squeaky mouse catnip toy.
Or do you have a way to generate the same page with the same URL, but a different breadcrumb trail?
Posted 13 January 2009 - 05:13 PM
Posted 13 January 2009 - 06:25 PM
BTW, a "Chief Marketing Technician" would never be able to synthesize this design, but now they can run to their IT people and say, "Hey, great idea to eliminate dupe pages. Implement this now." Ha! ha! A little dig on another post.
Sorry, I forgot to answer this question:
Edited by BBCoach, 13 January 2009 - 07:05 PM.
Posted 13 January 2009 - 07:59 PM
It can be frustrating when you are looking at clearance items and end up led out of the clearance area, having to backtrack to get back to other items you might be interested in.
Posted 14 January 2009 - 10:11 AM
Edited by BBCoach, 14 January 2009 - 11:42 AM.
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