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Do cloned pages specifying delivery towns create a duplication problem?

 10:04 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

My client produces and sells certain high quality consumer products, and delivers them to 30 or so towns within a single U.S. metropolitan area. I want to make it easy for the customer to find the page that tells them that my client delivers to their town.

There will be a main product page that will serve as the landing page for the products as a whole. That main product page will describe the product generally, and link to the individual products that can be purchased online. From that main product page I would like to clone landing pages for each town to which the client delivers.
Page Titles for these pages would be something like this:
“Clientco delivers widgets to Buyer Town 1 (zip code:12345)”
“Clientco delivers widgets to Buyer Town 2 (zip code:12346, 12347)”

Within the body of these main product landing pages there will also be a sentence that states that the client delivers to the particular town. The sentence would include that town’s zip codes. The rest of the text and images on each of these landing pages would the same on all of the main product landing pages. In other words, the only difference in content within each of the landing pages would be the name of the town and its zip codes.

The URLs for these pages would also be tailored to each town something like:

By doing this am I likely to run afoul of Google’s duplicate content rules?



 10:51 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Any problem would not likely be related to duplicate content. That being said, anything you can do to differentiate each page would ease that concern.

I would certainly recommend this technique, especially if people are searching by town. I certainly see this locally with products like firewood. The best way to rank for a term is to have a page with it as the title.

As for page titles, I would recommend putting keyphrase that people search for first: "firewood in jaglerfieldville delivered by clientco" or "jaglerfieldville firewood delivered by clientco" because it puts the search phrase first.

The panda algorithm that Google rolled out in April may be penalizing sites that try to create many similar pages targeting different phrases. My understanding is that that algorithm only affects sites with more than 100 pages. Because of this, I would try to keep the number of towns targeted to 50 or less, and make sure the total number of pages on the site remains under 100. If the site is somewhat larger than that, I'm not sure its a good strategy at this point.


 11:17 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

The panda algorithm that Google rolled out in April may be penalizing sites that try to create many similar pages targeting different phrases.

That's an astute observation. It's an example of what people think of as a "white hat" tactic, but it is still something done to chase the Google algorithm, rather than to serve the market. And I also see evidence that this kind of near-duplication is being negatively targeted by Google.

The tactic is just not working very well these days, it seems to me - at least not in many cases. And yet businesses that have been successful with this tactic in the past are reluctant to let it go.


 11:55 pm on Jul 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

In other words, the only difference in content within each of the landing pages would be the name of the town and its zip codes.

This is the part that's probably going to kill you. I have structures similar to what you're talking about in some event sites, but at least the content is different, even if it just comes down to a list of events. But since I have hundreds and hundreds of them, it's easier on the users to separate them out by city and/or zip. At least I assume so, because those are the pages that get shared and plussed and tweeted.

If the only difference is the name of the town and the zip code, it's going to be really hard to get away with saying that it improves the user experience (and as such may well get a ding for low quality) Unless you're doing something truly unique and unheard of in your store, I don't think you'd be able to pull it off.


 1:14 am on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I appreciate the quick and helpful replies from all three of you.

The site will have over 100 pages fairly soon, but aside from this one product line, we will probably not want or need to highlight local delivery for the other products and services available from this client. Their other products are not delivered this way. What the client produces is far from unique, but it is done in an unusually high quality way.

Since what I describe seems high risk could you comment on a couple of alternative ideas?

1) Add another sentence or two to individualize the page to each town. For example add, "In addition to being founded by the famous Civil War General Jubilation T. Buyertown and being the home of many state champion high school basketball teams, your town has something else to appreciate. Residents of Buyer Town 1 can receive same day delivery of widgets from ClientCo. Zip code(s) covered include 12345."

2) Or do you think it would be effective to list the names of all the cities my client delivers on a single landing page along with their respective zip codes? This might be in a table-like display near the bottom of the page in order not to interrupt the discussion of the merits of the product line near the top of the page. With this method I suspect that the SERPs for the phrase "widgets Buyer Town" would not be as high though.


 2:18 am on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

You might be able to list all the towns on a single page. If it really is just a list of towns with no other content, that's probably the best user experience. Have a delivery area page. It might not optimally target the local keywords, but depending on competition, that might be enough.

Alternately, could you get testimonials from users in various towns to put on the pages? If you have 1 to 5 testimonials for each town, that would be compelling content. It would no longer fit on one page. You'd have good reason to want to explore a multi-page approach from a usability as well as search engine optimization standpoint.


 12:20 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Any kind of user generated content that you can get on those pages that would be specific to the town the page is for would be a good idea.

Deadsea mentioned testimonials as a good idea, also a community forum where those in the community could discuss your product, product uses, Q&A, might go a long way towards making both the pages and the company better.


 2:08 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

In the short term, put them all on a single page.


 6:09 pm on Aug 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks again.

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