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One-to-many category structure / taxonomy design of URLs.

2:43 am on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hi Everyone,

Quick question please that I would love your input on..

I have a site that is nicely organised into categories called "regions". Each document can belong to multiple regions.

For example, one document might relate to both "China" and "Japan" because its all about Asia and mentions both China and Japan inside its content. So the users through their CMS, will flag in the database that it has two attributes, one saying it is related to China and another to Japan.. etc.

I am rebuilding the browse/heirarchy structure of the site as a series of structures static pages (well they will appear static) such as...


So that you can just type in these URLs directly see which documents belong inside that particular category.

Now for a particular document, I am stuck between making its URLs one of the following:

Obviously, if there were no one-to-many relationships with the regions possible, then the /China/DocumentX.html URL would be the best by far. BUT, because a document can belong to both Japan and China, should I make the document available via both URLs? I.e. /China/DocumentX.html and /Japan/DocumentX.html? I think that having the same content at multiple URLs like this might be bad and make me get penalised possible... Plus its confusing because the same thing lives in multiple locations..

So is my best compromise just to store all the documents at /Documents/DocumentX.html type URLs and just link to the appropriate documents from both the /China/ and /Japan/ browse category pages?

Thanks a lot, any input greatly appreciated guys.

[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 10:44 am (utc) on Dec. 9, 2008]
[edit reason] Exemplified domain name [/edit]

1:16 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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With the wonders of hypertext, it really does not matter where the document is stored, all appropriate pages can link directly to it.

I suspect your concern is about the reader in region A who chooses a document in region B, and then ends up with a different template (or at least, different navigation and page headings); no-one wants to confuse their readers.

While there is no duplicate penalty, there is a real risk that only one of the duplicates will be favourably indexed.

The best way, if the site is large, would probably be to use a content management system, that would avoid reader confusion by having any required content appear in the appropriate page. But You'd still have to manage the duplicate URLs with <noindex> or robots.txt to minimise probles - you'd choose which version would be favourable indexed.

Another way, especially for a smaller site, might be to use iframes or server side includes for content.

All these approaches have advantages and disadvantages,and you'll have to decide which will enhance your site more than set limits.

Another way might be to look again at your content, and find another way to categorize it that did not require so much cross-referencing.

Is the regional approach designed for visitor convenience, or structural issues (such as alternative currencies)?

Should you be considering breaking the site into regional sites? - not always useful, as you are then increasing your marketing needs, subdividing your incoming links, and still having potential duplication issues.

The key factor has to be what is least confusing for your visitors.

Your final suggestion sound 'safest', but may need careful attention to navigation, so that visitors can easily get back to the 'region' they came from. A 'back to last page' button may help, if javascript won't hurt.

9:57 am on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hey thanks heaps for the reply.

That has jolted my thinking a little.

I am thinking of going for the safe approach and just storing all the content in one place, but allow the various category pages to link to the same piece of content 1..n times.. etc.

Its already using a custom CMS, but its pretty lame and I have had the bonnet up LOTS and am gradually fixing it up.

Thanks again.

10:19 am on Dec 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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should I make the document available via both URLs? I.e. /China/DocumentX.html and /Japan/DocumentX.html

No this is asking for trouble. If the CMS allows it, make the file name descriptive eg. China-Japan-Widgets.html


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