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I have a webshop for different kind of prepaid cards. Every kind of prepaid card is also available in a different value. The product page of those different values differ only in a title (NameOfProduct ValueOfProduct), image, and the value in the description.

Do I have to use canonical for the different kind of values?

Because the product pages doesn't seem to rank as well as the other pages in the search engines.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Use rel=canonical when you have pages with small variations. I have an eshop for rubber stamps and each stamp can have a different color. Selecting a different color changes the anchor link, which means that it is a slightly different url.

I would use rel=canonical in this instance - I really have a single page that has major value to the visitor, the color variation pages are not important enough for the visitor to rank in the search results.

I would recommend having a look at the official Google Webmasters help Youtube channel.

As for not ranking, that is probably a content issue. Look at the meta title, meta description, h1 and text of your product pages. Duplicate content may also be an issue - if your product description is copied from a larger site your content is not unique enough.

You should also post a sitemap to Google webmaster tools. Maybe Google has not indexed your pages yet - try using the fetch as Google tool

Try doing a "site:yoursite.com" Google search to see the list of your pages that Google has indexed so far.

You should also use Google data highlighter to tell Google which data is which.

You can try adding a few relevant and properly named (= relevant keywords in link) anchor links from other pages that rank well.

An interesting video from Google's Matt Smith about 301 vs rel=canonical

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Thanks for your answer, I forgot to mention that the other pages do rank quite good. The product pages are ranking, but very bad. Looking at the other answer compared to yours. Is there any advantage by using the canonical relation in your example with the rubber stamps? –  Tim Mar 30 at 11:17
    
Yes, there is - the stamps are not displayed twice in SERP. Canonical also causes most of the pagerank to flow to the canonical page, it's very similar to a 301. But it won't magically make your pages rank higher - you have to have good content for that. You could make anchor links from your other pages that point to a few select products, but I don't have any experience for that so I can't tell you how efficient it would be. –  Marek Andreansky Mar 30 at 11:26
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...the product pages doesn't seem to rank in search engines.

Setting a rel="canonical" is unlikely to help your ranking if you aren't currently being ranked already.

Setting a rel="canonical" tag informs search engines which of the two (essentially duplicate) pages should appear in search engine results (SERPs). If you don't specify this then the search engines will decided for you... one or the other, which might not be the one you wanted.

If you have a preference as to which page (of two essentially duplicate - or very similar - pages) should appear in the SERPs then that is your canonical page and the other page should include a rel="canonical" tag pointing to the former.

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Thanks for your answer, so just to be clear: if I wouldn't care which variant will appear in the ranking and so I wouldn't specify the canonical relation, then it wouldn't hurt the overall SEO of those pages? –  Tim Mar 30 at 11:19
    
If you want both pages to appear in the SERPs, and you don't mind which, then omitting the rel="canonical" tag will not hurt your SEO. If Google determines that both pages are essentially a duplicate of the other then it might decide to return just one of the pages in the SERPs (simply because Google realises that the user doesn't want to see duplicate pages in the SERPs), otherwise there is no "penalty". –  w3d Mar 30 at 16:33
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The fact that these pages may be competing against each other is worrying. rel="canonical" will help you towards that. If you have 3 pages alike for example, and use this in 2 of them, only one will rank.

There's many different ways to go about product variations.

In my opinion, it would be better to list these 3 products all within one page, for example:

Page for product A with the option to purchase it with the 3 different values.

Take a look at this excellent post explaining how to go about these variations:

http://www.rimmkaufman.com/blog/ecommerce-seo-product-types-colors-sizes/29082012/

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Interesting article. I thought about it, but the problem is that it is not just about a attribute like size or color, it is about the value of the product which determines the price. So I think it will hurt the user interaction across the pages using that method. But thanks for your answer! –  Tim Apr 6 at 7:40
    
Not necessarily. Nevertheless, it is totally up to you. Look at this example: amazon.com/20-PlayStation-Store-Gift-Card/dp/B004RMK4BC/… –  guisasso Apr 10 at 18:45
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