February 4, 2009
[December 5, 2012: See this newer update regarding the same content on more than one URL. - Jill]
I have a new website selling children's eco friendly toys. The site was designed to enable customers to search for toys by age, by type of toy, by brand, and by country of manufacture. A given toy description would be in each of these categories as well as in multiple age categories and multiple toy types (i.e., in puzzles and wooden puzzles).
Consequently, a given toy may end up with 10 different identical pages on the site. A newbie to this SEO world, I recently read that having duplicated pages is not good for SEO. How do I meet the needs of my customers to search for a toy by whatever means they prefer and avoid crippling my SEO efforts?
It's definitely not good for SEO because you are basically creating duplicate content. (Same content on different URLs.) While there is no duplicate content penalty, it's not good practice because you'll be splitting your internal link popularity, plus forcing the search engines to index URLs that they really don't need to.
What you want to do is have your developers tweak your content management system so that each ultimate landing page for any given toy has only one specific URL, regardless of what category the user started from. I'm not a programmer, so I don't know all the ins and outs of how to tweak it in the back end of your system, but your IT team should be able to do it.
Of course, not all content management systems are that easily changed, or your programmers may be too busy or give you some grief over this. If that's the case, and it's impossible to create only one ultimate landing page URL for any toy, then I suggest blocking the search engines from indexing all but one URL, via your robots.txt exclusion file if at all possible. At least that way you won't have multiple copies of the page getting indexed by the search engines.
Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Consulting Agency.
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