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We have a fairly standard eCommerce marketplace site.

When a user searches for "something in city A" a friendly url is created with that search term which displays a list of products for that term. These pages are then indexed by Google and subsequently crawls the product pages. It has resulted in us having many more pages indexed than we actually have products.

My question is. Is this a sensible strategy? Are these considered doorway pages by google? Would we gain an advantage by using sitemap.xml with links to each product?

Thanks.

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1 Answer 1

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Here's a blog post from Matt Cutts (the head of google's webspam team) about that question.

Basically, you are going to have some SEO issues from doing that. Matt Cutts said that Google takes steps to "reduce the impact of those pages in our index", so they aren't going to help you, and they may hurt you (SEO wise).

In addition, and more importantly, you are going to have some user experience issues. The last thing someone wants, after clicking on a link in one search results page, is to be brought to another search results page. That is really annoying, and you will probably have lots of people leaving your site because of that.

And lastly, the Google webmaster guidelines advise that you:

Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don't add much value for users coming from search engines.

If Google says that you shouldn't do it, then you shouldn't do it.

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You are absolutely right when you say "That is really annoying, and you will probably have lots of people leaving your site because of that". I can't express how much I HATE searching for something in Google, only to be takes to some random search results page on another site. I don't think "search results pages" should ever be indexed by ANOTHER search engine. I don't remember the last time I have clicked anything on these secondary search results pages. It half feels like you were tricked into visiting that page in the first place, so I don't click any further. I'm sure I'm not alone either. –  Sherwin Flight May 23 '12 at 22:46
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Couldn't agree more. The sitemap.xml approach and disallow on search results was the way I'd always taught it should be done. –  madcapnmckay May 23 '12 at 23:30

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