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What is duplicate content and how can I avoid being penalized for it on my site?

The website is a Magento store , but I believe this applies to any product search.

We have a search form which takes several parameters. Each combination of parameters results in a different set of products being returned. Obviously sometimes the same product will appear in a different set of products.

Very little changes outside the products list when we filter the search: the title tag and the filters lists, the one major change is the product list, where some products will disappear, but most of the time they will repeat through different filters. Also since we have different urls the search engine is treating them as different pages.

Is this considered duplicated content?

Also what is the best way to make my search seo friendly?

Listing all my products and using the canonical tag to point every search there is an option, but is this the right choice? Aren't I losing the possible keyword combinations from my filtres (category, price range, brand)?

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marked as duplicate by danlefree Oct 14 '12 at 22:13

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I don't think you need to be too concerned about products appearing in unique subsets with different filters. This is no different than having a category navigation and having products belong to multiple categories. When it comes to duplicate content Google seems mainly concerned with parameters that do not change the content at all (see here), as opposed to merely having content that overlaps.

I would however try to account for sorting parameters that display the exact same subsets as each other, just in a different order. Assuming your search results use URLs with parameters, you can tell the major search engines which parameters to ignore as duplicate content and which ones change the content. For Google Webmaster Tools you go to Site Configuration > URL Parameters. For Bing Websmaster Tools you go to Index > URL Normalization.

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In general you should block "fuzzy" search results (those where the user can search for any phrase). In fact, these are not usually discoverable since you don't add links to search results elsewhere on the site.

This is assuming all your content is already discoverable via regular navigation like categories, which it should be. Search results on top of this would probably be classed as duplicate content.

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