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How Can I Tell If This Url Quirk Has Been Hurting My Seo


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6 replies to this topic

#1 jobstrdan

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:47 PM

(First time poster with a specific Q about my site...I read the anti-spam guidelines, but...well, I'm not sure how to ask for help without pointing to my site's URL structure...mods, hopefully you can see that my Q is a legitimate one that I'd like some guidance on.)

A few months ago, I learned that my site (removed) had been doing something very wrong, in that we did not have a proper 301 htaccess redirect set up for example.com vs. www.example.com meaning that Google was essentially crawling each of those as its own site, thus cannibalizing our own SEO.

So we fixed that.

But I just discovered another peculiar quirk in our URL structure, and I'm posting because I'm concerned it might be doing the same thing: on every individual Q&A page, the "/threads/show/" portion of the URL can be replaced with /t/s/ and it will take you to exactly the same place. For example, these two URLs take the user to exactly the same page:
example.com/threads/show/4371-football-ref
example.com/t/s/4371-football-ref

I don't know why the URL structure was set up like that, but my question boils down simply to the following: how can I tell if Google and other SE's are crawling & indexing those two pages as if they were two distinct entities or not?

IOW, I know that in some cases, a URL's flexible structure is a convenience, but won't necessarily ding my SEO (case in point: example.com/t/s/4371-football-ref takes you to the same place as example.com/t/s/4371-look-ma-nohands << the only routing variable is the number 4371-...it doesn't matter what you put after it.)

But I want to know if the threads/show/ = t/s/ thing is akin to the 301 htaccess thing, in that it may have been having a substantial negative SEO impact.

Edited by Jill, 28 September 2012 - 12:53 PM.
Sorry, removed URLs, it can be asked without links.


#2 Jill

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:55 PM

how can I tell if Google and other SE's are crawling & indexing those two pages as if they were two distinct entities or not?


The canonical link element (aka rel=canonical) will serve your purpose.

#3 jobstrdan

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:01 PM

OK, thx...can you point me to a resource that explains that further, as I'm not a dev.

And what is your assessment of how much SEO damage the current set up has (or has not) done...do you think SE's were crawling it as 2 completely different sites, just as with the www. vs. non-www 301 htaccess redirect thing?

#4 chrishirst

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:03 PM

And what is your assessment of how much SEO damage the current set up has (or has not) done.

Absolutely none at all!

Search engines can figure it out all by themselves and had been doing so for a decade or so before somebody decided that it was a "problem".

#5 Jill

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:51 AM

I disagree with Chris. It may very well be a huge problem as you could be splitting your PageRank between the various duplicate content. Find info on rel=canonical and fix it.

#6 jobstrdan

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 10:35 AM

Just checking back in, since I've got the hang of the rel=canonical thing now (thank!), but want to be sure I'm using it properly. I've read the Google link how-to here:
http://support.googl...n&answer=139394

If i have TWO versions of a page:
1) example.com/page1
2) example.com/page1-sort=highest

and let's say that #1 is the one I want to designate as the preferred (aka canonical) version, my understanding is that in the <head> section of #2, I need to put:


<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/page1"/>

First off is that correct? But more importantly,is it OK if that line exists on BOTH versions of the page (the canonical one AND the non-canonical one)?


That's the way I've got it set up, and just want to make sure that it's not sub-optimal.

#7 Jill

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 05:23 PM

First off is that correct? But more importantly,is it OK if that line exists on BOTH versions of the page (the canonical one AND the non-canonical one)?


That's how it has to be, so you're good!




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