aakk9999 - 10:44 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)
My take on this is following - lets say you sell broad product line of Widgets and have three categories of products:
Wagets, Wogets and Wugets
Each of these categories has 50 products and you can list 10 products per page, e.g., you would have 5 pages for each category or 15 pages of listing if listing all Wigets together.
Lets say that:
1. your products on the listing pages shows some kind of product summary for every product (a sentence or perhaps two), which (in the best case) is not a duplicate sentence from the product detail page itself, in the worst case is perhaps the first sentence or two (max) of the much more detailed product description from product detail page, e.g. listing shows list of product like:
Waget A - a beautiful top of the range wadget that performs all necessary wadget functions such as aaa, bbb, ccc. Price x.xx
Wadget B - this is one of the smallest wadgets that can be found on the market. Whilst it does not do ccc, you get great experience for aaa and bbb at much lower price. Price x.xx
Wadget C - .....etc
2. Each of your category pages can be sorted by price, size, etc. in ascending/descending order which shows the products with the same short info, but in different product order
3. Each of category pages can also be filtered by some characteristics (e.g. only show wadgets that perform aaa)
4. You can also have a search results that shows results for all Widgets, i.e. spanning all three categories together (e.g. show all wadgets, wodgets and wudgets)
So I would intend to rank category pages described under point 1. Page title (and description) for page 2 and subsequent pages would have "- Page n" added. Alternatively, Tedster's idea to include the name of the first and last product listed in the title is an excellent one (if product naming conventions allow you this to look sensible), but have not tried that.
Points 2, 3 and 4 would be the best to be set as noindex, follow as these are just permutation of listing that can potentially be many, depending on how many search criteria. If you can stop point 2, 3 and 4 URLs being exposed to search engines, even better (for example, using search form with postback, although this is not a guarantee either since if the postback returns URL with query string, someone can cut/paste query string and link to it and therefore it gets exposed to Google).
There is also possibility of:
- Stopping points 2 & 3 & 4 through robots.txt, but this may create a very long list of URLs disallowed by robots.txt being reported in WMT
- use canonical for listing pages created in point 2 to an URL created in Point 1 is also a possibility, but more difficult to employ the same for points 3 and 4 as these points either span 3 categories or are subset of one category so it is not really canonical of category listing pages you want indexed
However - I do have a case where I let Google index both, listing page as in point 1 (all Wadget products) and listing page as in point 3 (Wagets with aaa characteristics only, i.e. filtered down Wadget listing) and each is ranking for a different terms. We do however make sure that both of these cases the products displayed on the first page of point 3 are different products mix to products shown on the first page under point 1.
But if the concern is not so much ranking subsequent and/or category pages but just "fixing" Google Webmaster tools, then adding "- Page x" does get rid of duplicate title/description message in WMT.