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I had always assumed that when it comes to Google, the more pages the better. Rationale being:
- more pages = more PageRank generated
- more internal backlnks to first page with KW in link text
- Google likes bigger sites
Now I'm not so sure...WMT tells me that we have many pages with duplicate titles/metas, and rankings have been suffering for awhile :-(
Pagination is needed due to the size of the results sets. Also, I get long-tail searches thanks to some of the content on paginated pages.
So...what's the best strategy here? Options I've considered so far:
- Somehow make metas distinct (add "page 2" into each meta? add something unique to generated content?)
- "no index, follow" the pages - this wd prevent duplicate metas as well as keep the PR going, but I'd lose the long-tail searches.
Any thoughts on the best option to pursue when you have paginated results to display?
Sometimes it's better not to index result sets at all, rather than to confuse things. Sometimes it's better only to make page 1 indexable. Sometimes it's better to just let Google sort it all out however they want to. It really does depend on the exact situation.
I often prefer ensuring that there is another click path to the individual items - something outside the result set - and then using meta robots to no-index page 2 and on.
The long term fix will probably be to make most of the articles one page long, but the multiple images in the articles would make the pages way too big if that were done right now.
Pagination is hard to avoid, if you've got 200 results spread across 20 pages! I'm reluctant to lose the long-tail benefits of the paginated pages being indexed, so I'm going to see what happens if I make Titles/Metas unique. If that fails, then "no index, follow".
So in cases like this, I try to be creative and consider how else a user might be served in navigating to the individual product pages. Database result sets alone are rather lame. They may be easy to generate, but they're not very effective beyond the top few pages.
Is there more than one way to slice and dice your content - can you create different "categories" or different facets? For instance, let's talk about a book site within a professional specialty. Books can be organized by title. They can also be organized by author, or even by ISBN number. They can be organized by printing date, by sub-topic within the specialty, by the best sellers. Reviews and articles can be written to drive traffic to deep but valuable content. You might create a search on the Tables of Contents.
On and on it goes. One category or department system on its own always runs into the pagination barrier, so you need to make use of other ways to offer drill downs into the information.
Couple of reasons:
1) Not worth doing custom titles, the entire site was the identical title and metas (taken from the homepage of the sister ecom site - blech)
2) The above, and they're so far down into supplemental it's no loss to nuke them and exclude them permanently - it would take months for them to get found and the dups corrected.
3) Keyword cannibalization - major issue on a lot of sites (I'm seeing and fixing it on a few sites right now)
4) For not enough PR for a site, sculpting PR to favor pages that mean something and that I would want coming *out* of supplemental status just makes sense. For some sites, rel=nofollow and removal in WMT are good friends.
I'm dealing with "paginated" pages and similar, and being ruthless about limiting what's indexed.
[edited by: Marcia at 11:16 pm (utc) on July 17, 2008]
rocco, would you say that's to do with pagination not be handled carefully (i.e. you end up with duplicate titles/metas/etc) or in *all* cases, pagination is trouble?
Yes, exactly. If you have a large site and cannot handle the metas individually then only allow page 1. The possible risk is too high. I have seen many sites nuked recently (from 2 years till now). These database powered sites used to be gold, but know they are turning into pain.
It's only a very low PR2, only a couple interior pages with PR1, and since making the initial major alterations, the site is now getting around 1K uniques a month for the last 30 day period, with very decent pageviews and time spent on the site.
No revenue, it's just an info site - but it was perfect to try out as a test case.
tedster: ... . For instance, let's talk about a book site within a professional specialty. Books can be organized by title. They can also be organized by author, or even by ISBN number. They can be organized by printing date, by sub-topic within the specialty, by the best sellers. ...
Currently I'm using this kind of navigation. Though I'm not able to avoid paginated result sets. As you said ... books can be organized by title, by author or by topic ... - still you end up with several kinds of paginated result sets.
Google SERPs are also paginated results - why google consider paginated result sets as bad?
With pagination, you do have different content under potentially the same title - and the question is do you need to differentiate those titles? Do you want all those pages indexed? The can't all rank for the keywords in the title, so to really do right by those deeper pages in the pagination set, how will you handle it?
Does it really worth to set deeper pagination pages as "noindex, follow" and lose traffic from long tail searches?
When people are searching for some long tail (let's say for exact product name) quite often Google serves them deeper pagination pages containing the product name because the product detail page is not strong enough to show up in SERPs.
I think you've identified a mjor task to take on. Getting those product pages ranked would probably increase your conversion rate nicely. I should think optimizing those pages would payoff in the long term.
Though I'm using pagination results sets there are about 2 or 3 different click-paths to each product page. Maybe this is not enough.
I will add another 2 click-paths and set deeper pagination pages to "noindex, follow" hoping that product detail pages will show up in SERPs more often.
With pagination, you do have different content under potentially the same title - and the question is do you need to differentiate those titles?
I have been fighting with pagination issues now for over a month since WMT started reporting a high number of dupe titles for pages from the same category. It would be simpler to fix if my app allowed individual titles for catgeory pages, but it doesn't. I had to change the code to append "Category X - Page X" to the titles. I'm still not sure if this is having the necessary effect though as WMT is painfully slow to update. I have seen about a 10% reduction in reported dupe content in WMT two weeks after making changes to my site. It seems that whenever Google starts finding issues like this it also slows down the indexing of your site considerably
Another thing that I think helped is verifying the URL if you're usinh parameters on dynamic pages. page.php?a=1&b=2 and page.php?b=2&a=1 would render the same content but I think Google looks at them as two different pages. Only one of these should be the 'correct' format of the URL but there's a lot of lazy developers out there, myself included, that might not always use the same ordering of values after the question mark. Put some logic in the top of the page to verify the URL and redirect to the 'correct' one if the values are out of order.
Including page numbers in the title and description helped quite a bit on a couple of my sites.
I added page numbers to my category pages three weeks ago, as well as banning certain redundant URLs in robots.txt. I am finally seeing a reduction (by 50% so far) of reported dupe titles. Unfortunately traffic still keeps its steady 10 week downward trend and I see now that my PR has been reduced on most pages on my site for the second time despite gaining new links and not losing many old ones. Very frustrating indeed!