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I have several non-duplicate page titles that match a search query, say for the query 'stackexchange':

<title>John Smith Popular Content</title>
<title>John Smith Audience</title>
<title>John Smith Friends</title>
<title>John Smith Analysis</title>

I assume Google probably displays the most page-ranked page that matches the query, but does Google also take into account that this page1 links to page2and page3 which also have the search query in the title and therefore gives page1 a better rank because my site also containts page2 and page3 about searchterm?

The reasons I'm asking is because I'm trying to improve my rankings for SE queries such as stackexchange, and considering loading page1 / page2 / ... through JS while keeping the same URL. I assume this would mean Google won't even know what content page2 has, so trying to understand his handling of multiple matches from same site better.

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Google seems to like sites that cover all aspects of a topic. To rank for a term, a site often needs several pages about it, each of which cover different aspects of the topic.

If you have such pages, I would certainly let Google find them.

As far as your titles go, you are correct to be somewhat worried. I would never suggest putting "page X" into any title. Doing so reduces the click through rate from the SERPs because users don't like it. I would try to find better more descriptive titles for the pages that actually reflect what the page is about.

  • "Building your reputation on StackExchange"
  • "History of StackExchange"
  • "Getting your questions answered on StackExchange"

If there is a "main" page, you can focus on it in several ways:

  1. Make its title shorter and more generic: "StackExchange"
  2. Use a star link pattern where it links out to all the other pages on the topic and they link back to it. The other pages might link to each other sometimes, but not consistently.
  3. Linking to that as the main page from other sections of your website.
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Any way to help Google understand which of them is them is the main page? –  Noam Jan 10 at 16:22
    
I have expanded my answer with that information. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jan 10 at 16:50
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Since the materials on page1 and page2 are also different, page2 can do better in search results than page1 when the materials on page2 related more strongly to the search than the materials on page1.

Technically

<title>stackexchange page1</title>
<title>stackexchange page2</title>

are different although only by one character. Can that be improved?

If the series can be broken down into chapters, it would help as you could use the chapter title as the title. Using chapters as title is good for visitors. After they have read the information and want to return to recall one fact or detail; They can find the materials.

If stackexchange used page numbers instead of Qs for the title; it would be painfully hard to find what you wanted on stackexchange. Stackexchange shows up in search results most of the time not for the main page but rather a Chapter, or Question, page.

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As Stephen suggested, you may wish to choose titles which are more unique for a number of reasons. However title is not everything. Content and URL structure play a big role in determine what google displays. Make sure to avoid duplicate content as well (I only mention this because you're talking about displaying several similarly named pages). Another thing you can do help Google understand your page layout is to submit a sitemap to Google (you can do this through Google Webmaster tools). Also, if your page is large, you may be interested in implementing breadcrumb navigation for SEO purposes. Implementing all of these suggestions will help clarify which page should be displayed and when.

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