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Product names which repeat (or Kwd Density issues) =Duplicate Content Penalty?

 10:49 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Say you sell Stainless Steel Widgets, and that's all you sell. They're sold in a number of variations, for example:

• Classic Pattern Stainless Steel Widgets
• European Designer Stainless Steel Widgets
• Economy Stainless Steel Widgets
• Smooth-Finish Stainless Steel Widgets (Large)
• ClearCoat Stainless Steel Widgets (Medium)
• Stainless Steel Widget Assortment: Starter Kit
• Children's Mini Stainless Steel Widgets
• Special Overstock Stainless Steel Widget Closeouts
• Wholesale Bulk Quantity Stainless Steel Widgets
• Antique Reproduction Stainless Steel Widgets
...and so forth.

Of course, every product unavoidably shares the same consistent keyword phrase:

"Stainless Steel Widgets".

Again and again the phrase is within link text from a main category thumbnails page over to each solo product page, where it's then repeated in each URL, meta description tag etc. &c.

What happens with SEO?

(Apologies in advance if I'm asking a question that's already been well answered elsewhere. Please forbear and lead me to those posts, if you'd be so kind. Thanks much.)



 9:05 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

You are talking about a huge problem that industrial and B2B websites have been facing for years. To be honest I have yet to see a great solution. In my experience it usually ends up more like making the best of a bad situation.

Simple answer - Get creative.

More detailed answer - Avoid uploading a big, plain parts catalog. Google is basically a text retrieval system and you want to give it a bunch of good quality text for it to think your page is relevant.

Think about writing detailed description. How about posting customers reviews? If you can't do that then come up with a paragraph of common uses for the part. Add some suggested DIY projects that the part can be used in. Maybe post common questions & answers for this part. Get creative and make sure to post significant amount of unique text on eveyr page you want to perform well in Google.

Another option is to go to other way and just admit that not every page on your site should be indexed by Google. Create a stainless steel widget buying guide and maybe a few pages for each product line. But do not publish 1000 anemic pages for every single stainless steel widget. This can allow you to focus your link equity on a handful of good landing pages that can direct users to the individual product page for ordering.


 10:05 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm trying to get clients to consolidate similar products with similar product names to one page, with options or variations if possible. It's been a hard sell, because I'm going against all their internal systems as well. But ultimately I think that's where have to go. Better one or two really comprehensive (and useful) pages than a whole mess of thin duplicates.


 10:14 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Say you've got 3000 products (all "stainless steel widgets" per the original hypothetical example) —
you're going to, um, "consolidate" a potentially 3000-page product line down to only one product page?


 10:24 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

@luckychucky I think that is what they are saying yes.

However you can probably keep all the other pages but just use the canonical meta judiciously.

Like goodroi has said it's a tough one and no great answers at the moment.


 10:32 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Aargh. The messengers have my sincere gratitude – despite that through no fault whatsoever of their own, the message itself is pathetic and wretched.

To clarify something:

It's very much possible to write good descriptions and give Google a bunch of good quality text. It's totally feasible to make sure to post a significant amount of unique text on every page you want to perform well. That can indeed be done. No "thin pages" here, believe you me.

A huge range of products can be unique enough indeed, clearly and significantly different between themselves in major ways yet nonetheless all still the very same basic THING, all of them. Per the rules here I can't name my specific line of goods, but a very wide product line very much can exist this way. Off the top of my head, just to keep with the hypothetical, let's say all you sell are stainless steel forks. "ForksAreUs", k? All we sell are forks, forks, forks. Every forkin' fork ever made. They're all forks, they just are. Thousands upon thousands of fascinating varieties of forks. All kinds of forks, all made of the same metal, and they're quite diverse and unique enough in design and origin that each needs its own dedicated page with photos from several angles, and attendant descriptive text. Yet they can't be named or described, not a single one of them without mentioning that it's a fork, a stainless steel fork.

1000 creative alternate ways of saying "stainless steel" or "fork" do not exist. In fact not even a single alternative term exists for either.

You've still got a link to each product on your 'consolidated' page, and each link on that consolidated page will contain the product name, saying what it is, a stainless steel fork. If you've got search engine friendly URLs, the product name will be in each URL too. Fork. fork. fork. fork. fork. fork. Fork.



 11:58 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

the heading is "Stainless Steel Forks".
the list below that heading links to the unique types of SSFs:
• Classic Pattern
• European Designer
• Economy
• Smooth-Finish (Large)
• ClearCoat (Medium)
• Assortment: Starter Kit
• Children's Mini
• Special Overstock Closeouts
• Wholesale Bulk Quantity
• Antique Reproduction
...and so forth.

or something thereabouts...


 12:05 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

... thereby of course completely avoiding use of the actual keyword phrase which makes you most relevant to users' searches on Google. Or even, in fact, relevant at all.


 12:57 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

the title of the indexed page would still be something like "European Designer Stainless Steel Forks" and your header should be semantically linked to the list where you are linking to that url, so i'm not sure where the problem is.


 1:04 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

"Semantically Linked" ~

Do you mean that terms such as:

• blue
• round
• small, medium, large
• assorted
• heavy-duty
• imported

... are what Google considers most important for search relevance?


 1:23 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

^^^ Not on their own. But coupled with "Stainless Steel Forks" heading above them, it makes sense and it will make page relevant. Because it would then look as something like:

Stainless Steel Forks
• blue
• round
• small, medium, large
• assorted
• heavy-duty
• imported

There will be additional semantic links to add to the relevancy of the page:

- as phranque says, the <title> of the page and the heading (e.g. h1) should mention Stainless Steel Fork

- the link "blue" would probably link to a page that describes Blue Stainless Steel Forks and whose <title> should have this phrase, so even if the link is only "blue" the target page has "Stainless Steel Fork" in it, emphasising the semantic link between "blue" and "stainless steel Fork" (the same for "round", "small" etc)


 1:50 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

the <title> of the page and the heading (e.g. h1) should mention Stainless Steel Fork

link to a page that describes Blue Stainless Steel Forks and whose <title> should have this phrase, so even if the link is only "blue" the target page has "Stainless Steel Fork" in it

So it's okay if thousands of pages exist, each of which individually has "stainless steel fork" as its:

Highest Frequency Keyword (assuming sufficient uniqueness of the rest of the text it's nested within on each page)

Title Element

H1 Heading

... just as long as the home page's collection of links to these pages, and/or maybe the site map, don't actually repeatedly mention that same keyword;

... and care should also be taken not to include that actual keyword within the URLs of any more than but a handful of those thousands of pages.

Have I misunderstood?


 2:08 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Or should I follow Google's adamant advice to build pages for my users and not to second-guess search engines —
and simply mention, without [wow, a word related to cats was algorithmically censored here]-footing, the actual product I actually sell on every page upon which I sell it.


 2:17 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

"building pages for your users" in this case actually means not repeating "Stainless Steel Forks" hundreds of times per page, especially in a list of links.
it's not the fact of the high frequency keyword that is the problem in and of itself, it's that the user experience sucks when you do that.
putting the keyword in the title, heading and/or url of each page that is about that keyword shouldn't be a problem.
in general, as long as each title and url are unique you should be okay, whether it's in the thousands or dozens...


 3:37 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Also, some business models just plain ain't built for organic search. Nobody likes to hear that, but it's true. If you have 3000 products and you *have* to put Stainless Steel Forks into every product name, and list it multiple times on each page, then you're gonna have problem with *every* search engine; not just Google. And as phranque mentions, as a user, I wouldn't be very impressed with it either.

(You might get away with "forks" repeated like that, but not "stainless steel forks")


 5:43 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

You, as a user, may not be very impressed but that's a casually pedantic, throwaway dismissal. Fact is, it's a product line which continues to fascinate and delight customers going on 20 years now. The vast scale of the Internet has turned niche markets into mass markets, finding huge customer bases for focused specialty offerings.
If one sold hand-blown glass vases (and I don't, it just came to mind as yet another hypothetical example) the distinctions between each highly unique product would be mainly visual. Each picture being worth a thousand words, a user who finds his pleasure in viewing and collecting such vases would be impressed indeed to explore a site offering thousands of prime examples of same, all listed using the most relevant, exact words which clearly specify... what they are.
While it approaches truth to state that
some business models just plain ain't built for organic search
this is also a commentary on how pathetic search in its present form can be.
But to contend as a blanket declaration that user experience of the website itself will suck, independent of how Google likes or dislikes it in the SERPs, or that the product line or business model are flawed, solely by virtue of the fact that Google's mangled search functionality craps on it — that's just sad.

Whatever the theoretical product being offered, if one site specializes in an enormous selection of that item for which a user specifically searches, he will have an impressive user experience, and that one site will be the. most. relevant. to his search. But Google will likely 86 the site. It's not the user experience which will suck. The search results will suck.

It also helps explain why Google still sucks so royally as a shopping engine, even despite its floundering attempt to compensate via its lame sponsored-shopping functionality. Google doesn't favor straightforward, easily accessible cataloguing of product offerings. Google favors blather: blogs and backlinks from blogs: Twitter, chatter and blather.
In any case, it's a waste of time to gripe ad infinitum about what's wrong with Google. As a practical matter I've learned that by and large I need to find a way to indirectly describe my products in circuitous ways, because I will be penalized if I describe them using clear terms which best describe them for what they are. Regrettably you've all answered my question. So, thanks.


 1:42 pm on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ok. Good luck.


 7:54 pm on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

describing each item clearly is not the same as linking to each of those items hundreds or thousands of times on one page using the same descriptive phrase.
try using a text based browser or turning your images off to view the page and you'll see immediately what the problem is.


 3:56 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Again: if your product is Stainless Steel Forks there is no roundabout way to accurately name (as distinct from describe) each item you sell without using the keyword term "stainless steel fork" within the otherwise unique text surrounding each item's page title, meta tags and search-engine-friendly URL.

It is inaccurate to rhetorically twist this necessity into
linking to each of those items hundreds or thousands of times on one page using the same descriptive phrase.
The only place where hundreds or thousands of such links might be on one page, would possibly be a site map or, if the site were direct and accurate rather than evasive and oblique as recommended earlier in this thread, on an overall category page which lists all the products within a category.

As for the text on each product's page, it's a gross and flippant oversimplification to assume the same descriptive phrase would just be repeated 100s or 1000s of times willy-nilly on each cloned page, and the problem will be obvious if I just wake up and view it in a text-based browser. Pretty condescending.

It's far more accurate to say that each individual product should be uniquely and judiciously optimized for its most relevant keyword phrase, the phrase most relevant to the product itself and for those who search for that product. If in 100s or 1000s of instances, each product is unavoidably a variation on a stainless steel fork, then it ought to be that each product listing is optimized for that term.

But it won't.... because Google will penalize the site.

[edited by: luckychucky at 5:01 pm (utc) on Dec 13, 2013]


 4:36 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Let wags chatter about 'quality user experience' (where applicable) until they're blue in the face if they like —
Fact is, if I'm searching for Stainless Steel Widgets and come across a site mainly consisting of thumbnail photographs, each with text links to individual product pages as:
    Stainless Steel Widget #321 (blue, medium, coated)
    Stainless Steel Widget #654 (heavy-duty)
    Stainless Steel Widget #876a (super-saver economy)
    Stainless Steel Widget #987 (deluxe)
    Stainless Steel Widget #346 (closeout)
I'd have arrived. I'd be happy as a pig in... well, happy as a clam, clicking away and exploring each link for further details, adding to my cart, making comparisons toward a purchasing decision. I'd have found what I'm looking for, accessible and in abundance. That's one variation of a quality user experience.

 6:35 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes, arriving to a site that has a great selection is good. But this does not mean that every of your widget pages need to rank separately. Perhaps you should be ranking a page that is a category page for Stainless Steel Widgets instead.

Taking your glass vases as an example, I would probably noindex most of the vase product pages if the picture is pretty much all that can describe the product. I would try to rank the Glass Vase category page and I would make sure that my title and meta description tell the potential visitor that I have a great selection of these.

Or to take your example from the above, I would organise it and change the widget names as follows:
    - Blue, medium, coated (#321)
    - Heavy-duty (#654)
    - Super-saver economy (#876a)
    - Deluxe (#987)
    - Closeout (#346)
And then I would try to rank this category page where I would talk about and describe Stainless Steel Widgets.

<Edited for spelling>

[edited by: aakk9999 at 8:34 pm (utc) on Dec 13, 2013]


 6:49 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yeah, via this thread I've learned that's what I need to do. It's just sad that to please Google, 1000s of relevant product pages should be noindex, and (if the site exclusively sells only glass vases, or stainless steel widgets, but nothing else) that all optimization of a potentially deep and wide site will be for a single page only: that in spider eyes it will just be a one page site.


 8:35 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

that in spider eyes it will just be a one page site

that would only be the case if you nofollowed all the noindexed pages.

it's a gross and flippant oversimplification to assume the same descriptive phrase would just be repeated 100s or 1000s of times willy-nilly on each cloned page

that's not at all what i wrote but it's obviously what you want to believe i wrote despite my best attempts to clarify.

linking to each of those items hundreds or thousands of times on one page using the same descriptive phrase.

that's how i remembered it...


 10:04 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Look, offense was neither taken nor intended, and I sincerely appreciate your help. The main point, reduced to simplicity, is that as a merchant I can't proudly and directly proclaim to the world: "Look at all I have on offer!" as a straight-up catalog of wonderful variations to suit all needs and tastes. I can't indicate in the clearest way possible: If you're looking for specific x, here are thousands of accurately labelled specific x's. Instead, I must be sure to tiptoe and carefully 'hide my light under a bushel' through studious avoidance of the most obvious, direct and relevant terms which, despite that they repeat, most accurately describe those goods, and be sure to tell Google "Don't look here" whenever I do.

It's all fine. Now I know what I have to work with. If it sucks, it sucks. That's reality.


 10:41 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

actually this is what you have to work with:
if all your specific x lovers are linking to and sharing your indexed specific X pages you will probably rank well for the long tail specific x searches.
on the other hand if you're trying to fill page one with stainless steel forks...


 11:25 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Saying Stainless Steel Widgets needs to be repeated for each specific product to be clearly and easily understood would be like the w3.org thinking they need to precede or follow every link in the TOC on this page: [w3.org...] with HTML 5.1


1 HTML 5.1 Introduction

1.1 HTML 5.1 Background
1.2 HTML 5.1 Audience
1.3 HTML 5.1 Scope
1.4 HTML 5.1 History
1.5 HTML 5.1 Design notes
1.5.1 HTML 5.1 Serializability of script execution
1.5.2 HTML 5.1 Compliance with other specifications
1.5.3 HTML 5.1 Extensibility
1.6 HTML 5.1 HTML vs XHTML
1.7 HTML 5.1 Structure of this specification
1.7.1 HTML 5.1 How to read this specification
1.7.2 HTML 5.1 Typographic conventions
1.8 HTML 5.1 Privacy concerns
1.9 HTML 5.1 A quick introduction to HTML
1.9.1 HTML 5.1 Writing secure applications with HTML
1.9.2 HTML 5.1 Common pitfalls to avoid when using the scripting APIs
1.10 HTML 5.1 Conformance requirements for authors
1.10.1 HTML 5.1 Presentational markup
1.10.2 HTML 5.1 Syntax errors
1.10.3 HTML 5.1 Restrictions on content models and on attribute values
1.11 HTML 5.1 Suggested reading

... and so on

If people can't figure out they're reading about HTML 5.1 when they visit the link above, or "get" they're looking at Stainless Steel Widget based on the title and heading of the page, there's no way they're likely to be smart enough to complete a purchase, imo, so there's no way I'd cater to them personally.

If the w3.org did the above, it would look repetitive, spammy, unnecessary, and make the TOC more difficult to read just like it would on a Stainless Steel Widget site -- It used to be you needed to do what you're thinking is the most explanatory, but that was for old-school algo manipulation, not visitors, and it's not even close to necessary for algos any more -- It's never been necessary to do for visitors to understand what a page is about.


 3:51 am on Dec 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm being schooled here. Thanks.
Despite being a Webmasterworld member circa 10 years now, I've been away a real long time. Back when, my site used to dominate the SERPs for my little specialty in the world, literally first position or somewhere within top 1-3 for a wide slew of the most important trade-related keywords. Really truly. That was then though, and this is now. And I'm Rip Van Winkel just waking up to the changed world of optimization, from what in Internet time is an aeons-long sleep.
If truly looking at what's best for users, fact is that for some topics and products an almost wordless, image-based site perfectly provides the clearest understanding and usability. In that scenario blathery 'content' beyond a few explanatory or descriptive basics is truly superfluous for any real practical purpose. Thus a vast tract of unnecessary text is by necessity pretty much there only to ensure Google can grasp what it's about, and if you really just did what's best for your users, you'd die. Human users would do just fine without it. Better without it. They don’t need essays at all, because that clean visual layout makes it all beautifully self-evident in its direct yet rich simplicity. Google hands you lemons, so you get creative and make lemonade, you hope to make this superfluous text as interesting, useful and relevant as possible, but for the most part if you didn't have to run your mouth in these otherwise pointless essays, descriptions, blog posts and the like, you wouldn’t. There’d be a way cooler user experience with enhanced user understanding, by doing away with most of it entirely.
Meanwhile, although
it used to be you needed to do what you're thinking
you notice Google giving top rank to your competitors who are still doing exactly that. Anyway, I’m ranting again. I’ll figure out just to what degree groups of several only_obliquely_described pages ought to be consolidated as lists under the main relevant keyword phrases which really do matter, as main headings. I get it. You gave me the answer I was trying to find by posting the question in the first place.

 4:02 am on Dec 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

you notice Google giving top rank to your competitors who are still doing exactly that.

I have and I understand what you're saying, but understanding it's not necessary any more [it definitely was "back in the day"] and it's really not a "great experience" is more the point I was making -- Just because someone does it and it doesn't hurt doesn't mean it's helping, and it's likely, imo based on what I've seen, they're ranking based on other factors.

In-other-words: It's definitely not going to help any more. It detracts from the user experience [new factor in the time you've been away]. It could hurt, and even if it's a non-point today, what about tomorrow? [They're not likely reverting to the days of keyword density, imo ;)]

Personally, I wouldn't take the chance on it, because it's really unnecessary.

BTW: Welcome Back!


 3:25 pm on Dec 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google tells you a lot about what you need to do already, check out your traffic stats.

If traffic from search is concentrated to a select few pages, and not many others rank in the top 10, make sure those are the pages you actually want traffic to. If they are, look for other pages you may want traffic to and concentrate incoming and internal links to these pages. A noindex meta tag on the others might not be a bad idea either if they get no traffic.

Remember: pages with noindex meta tags still count towards your link profile. Rank flow, trust, pagerank etc all count on these pages and pass on to links from these pages, they just don't show up in search.(don't confuse a noindex meta tag with a robots.txt exclusion)


 5:33 pm on Dec 17, 2013 (gmt 0)


The easy solution to your problem is to create pages and build site in natural way for your targeted HUMANS.

Here HUMANS is the keyword.

So while making site structure, think how your targeted visitor can find what he/she want.

While creating URLs, think how your targeted HUMANS may refer to that product.

Let's take one example. You want to create page for 'European Designer Stainless Steel Widgets'. What should be the name of this page?

Most of SEO people may say -


But IMO it should be one of the following -


It depends on what widget we are talking about. Do the research about how your targeted HUMANS refer to that 'European Designer Stainless Steel Widgets' while they talk about it. I don't think that they use all those words while talking about it.

For example if the widget is 'forks' then they may say something like - "Those european forks are cool". I don't think that anyone will say - "Those european designer stainless steel forks are cool". Please correct me if I am wrong.

I don't have much time so I am stoping here. Sorry.

I hope you will find my natural optimization method useful and you will use it for your project.

Best of luck :)

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