Msg#: 3685308 posted 5:30 pm on Jun 27, 2008 (gmt 0)
Today I came to work to discover that Google has decided, literally overnight, that I have a LOT of duplicate content on my site. Webmaster tools shows a collection of about 60 urls that are "duplicates" for a couple of reasons. The main one is this:
On this e-commerce site, there are sections (like "blue widgets" and "red widgets") that have multiple pages (like "blue widgets - page 1," "blue widgets - page 3," etc.) but because they are all the same section, they all have the same meta titles and descriptions.
Anybody else seeing sudden issues like this in WMT?
Msg#: 3685308 posted 6:44 pm on Jun 27, 2008 (gmt 0)
There are definitely changes and additions going on in GWT. With regard to duplicate titles and descriptions, that's well worth addressing.
On lower PR pages, having a unique title and a unique description that are specific to the page content can make the difference between getting SOME search traffic to that page versus getting none at all. Low PR pages don't seem to get the "full treatment" from Google, but just something like a quick tagging of a few key page elements. Remnants of the old Supplemental Index system, I think.
I think there is a major time lag going on with Webmaster Tools reporting duplicate titles, metas. My traffic has been mysteriously deflating for over 8 weeks now, and all of the sudden this week I see GWT reporting over 1,000 duplicate metas and over 700 duplicate titles. These were never reported before, and I'm pretty sure the slow decline in traffic is just google pulling more and more of my pages from the index as it finds dupe content issues. On the one hand it's a nightmare to correct all of the dupes, but at least I know why traffic is vanishing now.
I would not make a causal relationship between Webmaster Tools' reporting of the dupe titles and descriptions and the traffic drop. Google knew about these before and its dupe content filter has been using title/snippet match as criteria long before Webmaster Tools existed.
And the dupe content filter does not knock pages out of the index. It is a run-time filter that affects the SERPs as they are served: If two candidate results that are to appear on the same results page have the same title and snippet, the lower ranking page will be knocked to the next results page.