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Is this improper canonicalization?

 7:29 am on Aug 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm working with a site - let's say it's a third-party ecommerce site. The issue is that the site contains dup content in the subcategory and product pages. So, let's say that the site is selling shoes. And a subcategory page is sandals, containing a list of product descriptions. These descriptions are dup content to the actual products pages, which contain that exact description. Now, that's not a big deal for the second, third, and fourth pair of sandals on the subcategory page. But for the first pair of sandals on that subcategory page, it's an exact match, word-for-word, to the first paragraph of its product page. Also, if you sort by price, that pair of sandals is NOT the first on that page. So implementing a canonical tag on the product page to the subcategory sandals page would probably not be the best move. Unless I implement a canonical tag on all of those product pages, which just seems kind of silly to me- the entire page isn't dup content after all, it's various sections of the page that are duplicates of various other pages on the site.
I'm kind of hoping that the great and mighty Google is somewhat understanding of such dup content issues on ecommerce sites, since it's unavoidable - any thoughts? And if Google isn't understanding, how would I deal with something like this?
(Also, many of these product descriptions have been scraped from the original brand's website, but that's something that I'm changing ASAP.)



 4:07 pm on Aug 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

If I understand you correctly, these are not completely duplicate pages - only part of the content is duplicate. If that's the case, Google will usually feature just one in the search results and filter out the other. It may not be the one you would like that gets filtered, but that's what the likely result would be. Duplicate content does NOR cause a true penalty, as in a black mark against the site.

many of these product descriptions have been scraped from the original brand's website, but that's something that I'm changing ASAP.

That's exactly right - in fact it's essential if you hope to get Google Search traffic.


 6:09 am on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster,

Thanks for the response. So the question is, how would correct canonicalization be implemented in this case? Obviously, this isn't the usual case of duplicate content, since it's one page that's a duplicate of several pages. Would you recommend implementing canonical link elements pointing to the subcategory sandals page from all of the individual sandals pages?


 7:00 am on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I would not recommend using the canonical tag in this case - except to reinforce the "natural" URL that is already assigned to each page. There is a unique mix of content for each page that you've described, even though some bits and pieces of each page do appear elsewhere.


 7:29 am on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's what I thought...it turns out the dup content issue is much more severe than I even thought, delving even deeper into the site, and a canonical link element would in all probability harm rather than help in this instance...
Thanks for your input!

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