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We have a large database of items which are viewable as individual items (they are plants) (url example http://www.plantify.co.uk/Abelia-chinensis/plant-5087) or in a list view (url example http://www.plantify.co.uk/page-1/plant). There is a link on the individual page to the list view.

We want to index in google for the term Abelia chinensis.

My question revolves around the list view and its impact on SEO. Should we prevent google from indexing the list view? Should we put a no follow on the link to the list view to prevent us from losing link 'juice' to a page that is really on for navigation/

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3 Answers

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There is almost never a reason to prevent Google's indexing of a page. In this kind of situation if the list view is appearing above the individual page in search results (for a direct query like "Abelia chinensis") then there is something else wrong.

Here are some things I think you should fix/improve:

  • Your navigation looks confusing to me. Your "plant finder" link in the main menu links to the first plant in the list, instead of the list itself.
  • On the list view, the "Browse" link always goes to "Heucherella". (Not really sure where it should go, maybe the last plant you visited?)
  • The pagination on the list view implies there are only 5 pages. When you get to page 5, there is no "6", just a Next link.
  • Whichever plant you are on, the "list" tab always goes to the first page, not the page the current plant is on.
  • In the list, each plant name is in a H1 tag inside a link. Not only does this break several validation rules (multiple H1s, block tag in inline tag), it will not aid SEO. You should have one H1 tag as the page heading (e.g. "List of plants") then just list the links. You could use a H2 for them if you like.
  • The title on the individual plant page would be better with your site name at the end, i.e. <title>Abelia chinensis (Chinese abelia) | Plantify</title>
  • If you want a page to rank, that page needs links to it (not just the home page plus internal linking). Try getting a few "deep links" to your Abelia chinensis or other plant pages.
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Great advice, much appreciated. (Will promote the answer as soon as I have enough points - I am a newbie on this stack exchange). –  plantify Apr 4 '12 at 10:49
    
"...prevent Google's indexing of a page." - If that page is simply an 'index' and you'd much rather users landed on the content pages (also better for the users) then why allow G to index that page? Follow yes, index no? –  w3d Apr 4 '12 at 14:53
    
@w3d Why would you want to block the possibility of getting hits to your website? If you block pages you are more likely to not appear at all in SERPs, rather than get a different page to appear. SEs aren't stupid, users searching for individual items will usually be returned the content pages in SERPs. –  DisgruntledGoat Apr 4 '12 at 19:26
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PageRank is such a small part of Google's algorithm that I would not worry about link 'juice'. IMHO I don't really think it's conveyed in the way much of the internet seems to, and even if it was once Google will have changed it by now to stay relevant and deal with the link farms.

The issue you have is that these plant name queries are highly competitive (even wiki struggles) and your site is a garden design tool not a nursery or plant sales site.

My advise would be to look carefully at your site title, page titles and descriptions and compare them to the top ranked results on google searches you'd like to be in (and to the way stack exchange works), I would also add facebook and twitter shares for each page in addition to your google+ button.

It may be worth introducing a tagging system into your site to make it more easily searchable for users.

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Great advice. (Will promote the answer as soon as I have enough points - I am a newbie on this stack exchange). –  plantify Apr 4 '12 at 10:51
    
According to Matt Cutts you should never (try to) sculpt PageRank by including nofollow on internal links. (There might be other reasons to include nofollow on internal links; but I can't think of any?) –  w3d Apr 4 '12 at 14:48
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I would use the noindex meta tag on the list view page. If you really want to focus on the detail pages, this may be a good option.

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I would have been inclined to suggest the same, particularly if the list view pages simply contain a snippet of the same information found on the detail pages (and people start linking to the list view?). However, as @DisgruntledGoat says (above), providing the pages are marked up correctly then the search engines should be able to resolve this and naturally provide more weight to the detail pages if that is the subject of the search. –  w3d Apr 5 '12 at 9:15
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