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SEO for site search pages, duplicate content?

     
12:04 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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On a site with a product search, what should I do with site search pages? Some of them (in particular searches for a particular location) match search terms, but I am concerned about duplicate content because if we get lots of searches indexed it will be different ordering of the same content on many of them.

Not a problem with the locations because we have a drop down list of cities served so results for those with no other filters do not overlap.

Should search results even be crawlable? Or maybe selectively crawlable?
3:39 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google tends to not like it when search pages are indexable. If you have a small site, it's not a big deal and you can get away with it. If you have an active site generating 100k+ pages of search results, you probably should clean it up sooner than later. It also depends on what your search pages look like. Many sites have very anemic search results pages so they make for a bad user experience. Better to handcraft a good page that will rank better & convert better.

I like using the on-site search box for keyword research. Find out what users want to steer your new content creation. If you see a common term often popping up in the search logs, go ahead and make a landing page for it (could be combination of search results, rss feed, handwritten snippets, etc) so there is value for users. Of course this is heavy YMMV, depending on your own unique situation.
3:41 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Generally block them from crawling. Would they provide good user experience or be helpful as a landing page? In most cases they probably wouldn't. Generally you can't SEO them either. Would you want Google to prioritise crawling these over other pages - unlikely!
5:04 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies. That is exactly the sort of thing I was worried about.

In general they do not make good landing pages. They are the key part of the sales funnel (its pretty much search -> search results -> pick one -> sale or enquiry) so we do want to get people to them.

The exception are the location pages - this is something people look for primarily by location.

I think the solution is to put the search results for locations on separate pages, combined with some location specific content we already have. Does that sound sensible. Not quite hand crafted (too many items and they change too fast for that to be possible) but unique content and good landing pages is search is not crawlable. Does that sound sensible?
11:42 pm on Oct 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Just checking ... reliance on g's search box, or a wholly owned internal search?

Two different critters, with the latter being useful to the user INTERNALLY (at server cost) to KEEP the user ON SITE. In that regard g won't see it (for their serps) and in that case I wouldn't worry about it.
12:12 pm on Oct 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@tangor, wholly owned internal search. Its not keyword search, its filtering by criteria relevant to the service. Location is the single most important one - I probably cannot mention others without pushing the rules on specifics.
12:14 pm on Oct 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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We do want to use the location search results as landing pages, (they work well - they are used as landing pages for PPC) replacing pages of info about locations (which have little traffic and a sky-high bounce rate).
2:40 am on Oct 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If the concern is that the searches are similar, are getting crawled, and so forth, I'd just robots.txt out THAT section and not worry about it.

This is a service for your users. Keep it that way!
1:58 pm on Oct 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks all, I think I have the solution and it addresses everything - broadly search results for each location on location pages with a link to search, and restrict indexing of search results (probably allow the unfiltered first page, as we currently do)
1:15 am on Oct 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Keep us posted! A report ... say 180 days from now ... is appreciated!