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A website selling a medical book called "anatomy cihak" has 4 html pages - a category called "anatomy cihak" and three product categories for each book in the series - "anatomy cihak 1", "2" and "3".

Should I do a rel=canonical from the individual product pages to the category that lists all three books?

The search term used by customers is "anatomy cihak" and I believe the product category is the relevant page that Google should show in search results.

An interesting note - when I search for "anatomy cihak 1" the first search result from my site is actually "anatomy cihak 2" even though it is less relevant (a different edition of the book). This is the reason why I am thinking of doing a rel=canonical - the results are not relevant.

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If you search for "anatomy cihak 1" (with quotes) do you get different results? –  w3d Apr 3 at 12:12
    
Yes, my page is the 5th Google search result (in incognito) –  Marek Andreansky Apr 3 at 14:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The reason to use the rel=canonical shouldn't be the term users use to get to the site, but the content.

If each page has different content and/or different reason to exist, like index and content, then there is no need for canonical, even more, it's use would be incorrect, semantically speaking.

What you should do, for instance, is improve the product page and have a related section where you point to the other books. And of course to the main category. Also try to improve the category index page so it becomes relevant.

Update considering your comments

If a page is ranked higher that others, that means that itś content is more relevant to users than the other ones, although, the fact that is higher in ranking also generates a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. A popular page is going to attract more visitor, making it more popular and so on.

In any case, improve the content of each page as much as you can so each page can hold it's own ground on searches and ranking, don't try to change that artificially. If each page provides an accurate description of it's content, users will be able to determine which page they want to visit, and which book to buy.

Don't worry about the order they rank, in any case, worry about them ranking or not. And remember, the most important aspect is that users can find the right information.

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I agree with you, but the problem is that the individual pages have very little unique content. I actually thought of combining the books into a single product with an attribute selector for the version of the book, but my eshop does not know how to show the variations in the product list. –  Marek Andreansky Apr 3 at 10:36

With addition to PatomaS response.

Not only would using rel=canonical be incorrect but you could also cause serious SEO issues and maybe un-indexing of some webpages via google.

For example, you have a webpage a.com/abc and you have a webpage called a.com/adc

you put rel=canonical on a.com/abc pointing to a.com/adc and a.com/adc points to itself you are in effect telling search engines that a.com/abc is a duplicate copy of a.com/adc thus instead of getting penalised for duplicate content the search engine does not index the duplicate page. For a more in depth decription see here

In answering your question. You main page should be "anatomy cihak" however this would be the section and the other 3 are products (1,2,3) if you set your website out and lay this out correctly in a structured format google will pick this up. However, would it really be a bad thing for google to show the product when someone is looking for "anatomy cihak" surely this would create quicker sales as the customer is getting exactly what they are looking for? Use structured data and keep the title tags unique and let google decide which is more "relevant"

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You're right, but my issue is that I would rather for the customer to see all three books of the series instead of looking at a specific one. Currently Goggle ranks the pages as anatomy cihak 2 > anatomy cihak > anatomy cihak 1 > anatomy cihak 3, which means that cihak 2 is either more demanded or has more pagerank. –  Marek Andreansky Apr 3 at 10:33
    
You got a link to the page? it maybe the structure of the site. for instance if index is level 0 you want the section on 1 click into and the products on the 2nd click, if you allow direct entry then this maybe an issue. However saying that if (which is more likely) the products have more relevant information to the keyword they are bound to be ranked higher. I've taken a look at the site on your bio and my Slovakia is by far worse then your english as i cannot speak a word of it... hence i am unable to locate the section or products –  Liam Sorsby Apr 3 at 10:36
    
The only difference is the number of the book :) My original idea was to merge the pagerank of all the pages into one so that it can rank higher while also providing a more relevant result (in which the customer can immediately see the whole cihak portfolio instead of a single book) –  Marek Andreansky Apr 3 at 10:44
    
Funny thing, even if I search for "anatomy cihak 1" the first result from my site is "anatomy cihak 2" - it simply has a higher pagerank even though it is less relevant for the query. –  Marek Andreansky Apr 3 at 10:48
    
This could potentially be down to the results returned by the search query on your site rather then page rank if you search "anatomy cihak 1" it brings up the website (presuming it is yours) yoursite.sk/?hledat=Anatomia+Cihak&hlokalita=&iddel=1 why dont you make book 1, 2 and 3 appear for that search query? –  Liam Sorsby Apr 3 at 10:56

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