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How to handle a 'section' of duplicate content?

     
6:24 pm on Jul 12, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I am developing a new version of my site using wordpress & woocommerce.
One of my aims is improving UX and with this in mind the product category pages will have a 'guide' section and a 'faq' section (where relevant).

I have this content already on my current site but these can be quite lengthy so in order to keep the category page more compact on the new site, I am putting both sections within accordion dropdowns that are both closed initially, giving the user a clearer view of the product list when the page first loads but also the option to open the extended info if they wish.I believe this is a better experience, especially on mobile devices, avoiding scrolling for those that just wish to see the products.

The guide content within the accordion section is taken from a blog post and embedded into the category page. The FAQ page in a similar way, embedding a post page that contains short codes for the relevant faqs. This is for 2 reasons :

1. Firstly the standard category page description section & editor is limited in woocommerce so using wordpress posts is more feature rich and easier.

2. I also want the post itself to be a standalone article that can be indexed in its own right and be the canonical version of that content.

The parts im not sure about though is how I handle having this content duplicated in a category page? I don't want to simply rel-canonical link the whole page to the original post because the category page contains content in its own right such as general description, products, the faqs section etc

If there is some way of marking just a section of a page to point to the canonical version of the content somehow, or just excluding that section in a google friendly way from being considered during the index.

Not sure how to handle this.The only sure safe option I can think of currently is having the category page as the canonical version and putting a rel tag in the post to clarify that, but that will stop the post from be indexed as a standalone guide in its own right.
8:05 pm on July 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Duplicate content is not poison. Its just not helpful. Google will filter out and ignore one of the duplicate versions. You can use the canonical tag to help Google pick the version you prefer. Personally I prefer to get creative and figure out how to add more value so its no longer duplicate content.
11:11 pm on July 16, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I think you need to worry more about the accordion than the duplicate content.

Google has said that it will index content hidden in an accordion. But at the same time they have said that this content will not be included in rich-snippets/knowledge-box results. So there is a clear distinction being made. This may help you in that if the content is duplicated Google will likely prefer the non-accordion version. But I am not sure one can depend on that.

What it really comes down to is what are you expecting from this content. Are you hoping that the page will rank for this content? Or, is this content simply provided as a convenience to the user. If it is the latter, you could use Javascript/Fetch to add the content to the page when a user clicks on the accordion. Like that Googlebot never sees the content unless it follows the link. You could then noindex or block by robots the content.
12:26 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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the idea is very much like you said - convenience for the user having that content on the category page. I want the category page to be ranked/seen as just that - a page of products in that category, so the keyword focus and rankings should come from the main description (and products but I will use product markup which should help with that). The guide content will often be quite vast covering a variety of related content/advice so Id prefer it not to be considered as main content as it could certainly dilute or confuse what the main focus is.
It currently loads via php pulling in the post (reads a url in a custom field in the category backend) but I like your suggestion of retrieving it via js if the accordion is clicked on as that seems to help with the issue I outline above but also will help with initial load times. I will investigate this way more as im sure there must be a correct way of doing this so that google doesn't follow that link but I want to be careful I dont do something that is seen hiding content.
I am also wondering if using Semantic HTML will help and enclosing it in an <aside> block - no idea if google is using these to identify main content or not but they does reference using Semantic Elements in the developer docs. I guess it cant do any harm at least.
12:42 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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im actually thinking the <details> and <summary> tags might be a good fit for this also and also for using in various sections in the product pages themselves. I didnt realise until now that those tags actually work to hide/display content like that until now. Very useful - I should spend a bit more time reading up on HTML5 newer tags.
8:38 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If it's just a category archive page with a snippet of content from the original article, then I wouldn't worry about that. It's not a big deal.
9:56 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@martinibuster - its not , it is the whole post pulled in into the page. For each category there is a comprehensive guide about that set of products providing lots of useful info which could be useful for people but also something I don't want taking the whole page up by default.
That is one reason for setting it up that way , another is that I have seen that google seems to differentiate between "articles" and product lists / categories so I am aiming to rank for both of these with the relevant content as I can see do see the results differ greatly depending on the query used. To give an example (and this is not what my site is) for a hotel site you might have a category page of Paris Hotels and your might have a Guide to Paris. It could well be useful to have that guide accessible in the Category page but you might want it to rank as a separate page. People that search for "Paris Hotels" you would want to go to your category page but for "things to do in Paris" or "best areas to stay in Paris" or even "travel guide paris" you might want your guide page to rank but the person could well be considering hotels etc also.
3:38 am on July 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It could well be useful to have that guide accessible in the Category page but you might want it to rank as a separate page. People that search for "Paris Hotels" you would want to go to your category page but for "things to do in Paris" or "best areas to stay in Paris" or even "travel guide paris" you might want your guide page to rank but the person could well be considering hotels etc also.


Number one, I understand that the example you gave is an example. So I'm going to illustrate my point using your example.

The example shows two separate user intents. Mixing the intents may result in a poor outcome. Google rank the appropriate page for the appropriate query. Google does not tend to rank pages with mixed topics. Below is the full explanation, with actual queries to show the accuracy of the explanation.

In your example, people who search for Paris Hotels may show a preference for a page that lists and ranks a group of Paris Hotels. It's possible to show specific hotels if those hotels are super popular.

I wrote the previous sentence BEFORE checking the SERPs. If you check the SERPs for hotels in Paris you'll see that I am correct, that's exactly what Google does, because it's matching the user intent.

This is100% true (and written before checking the SERPs):
Google will NOT show pages that are about "travel guide Paris" for a hotel query. That's because those are two different search intents.

People who search for travel guides are people who may already have booked their flight and hotel and are looking for things to do, places to eat.

So if you mix the two together, it's at the risk of not being exactly what users want. The result is your page that mixes two user intents may not rank.

Do a search for Travel Guide Paris and you will see that I am 100% correct. There is no Hotel user intent.

So, perhaps not the answer you're looking for, but maybe the answer you need is that there may not be a good reason (for user experience or SEO) to drop an irrelevant article into the page.

Although the two pages are about Paris, they are not relevant to the user making a specific query. Relevance is always, always, always about relevance to the user, not the words.

Good luck and all the best to you!
:)

Roger Montti aka martinibuster
3:13 pm on July 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@martinibuster - yes , that is what im saying also but maybe didnt make it clear enough sorry. It is part of the reason I dont want the guide page part (contained in the category page) to be included as part of the content for that page. When I said I want to rank for both types of queries I didnt mean for one page I meant rank for product queries with the product category page and rank for article type queries (guide to ....) with the guide post page.
The only thing I dont completely agree with in your response is that when someone does a search for "Travel Guide Paris" that you say there is no "hotel user intent" - there is not always this intent but there certainly could be. People often research a place, using guides etc, before booking hotels, flights etc because many things could influences their decision such as when to go, which area to stay in (close to certain attractions, safety etc) - there is in my opinion a 2 way relationship with the info/guide type material and the booking of hotels, flights, excursions etc.

Im beginning to think though that it might just be easier to not include the guide section on the page and just have a prominent link to it. Its a pity though as I do believe having it the way I wanted is better for the user and for this instance it is a case of googles definition of what is good for the user is actually going against it / restricting it.

I think there is a need for for some way of tagging a section of content as "noindex" , but just a section - of course it would need to be done in a way so that people are not abusing it as Im sure there would be ways found.