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I am a wedding planner and currently run a successful business that provides services across various cities in the UK. My website ranks pretty well for the main cities that I cover based on the following SEO strategy:

I have a separate page on my website for each city that I cover services for, so lets say 40 separate pages that have certain keywords and meta data specific to that city. A lot of the content on those pages is duplicate (some pages being identical but with different meta tags and keywords).

As you can imagine it is pretty difficult to manage that many pages and keep the content unique and relevant for each and every page.

I use Yoast SEO plugin for keeping my metadata intact. So far the results have been good but since I have started using canonical url's for the duplicate pages I've seen a drastic decrease in rankings.

So my question is, will this technique get penalised by Google for duplicate content? and if so how else could I go about this in a way that is adherent to Google?

Thanks

  • Google calls duplicated pages with only the city name changes doorway pages. Doorway pages are considered low quality pages that Google doesn't want in their search index. Google used to have that specific example on there. – Stephen Ostermiller Oct 2 '17 at 18:47
  • Thanks for pointing that out. So doorway pages in general are a bad idea? Is there an alternative to this that is adherent to Google? – user3574492 Oct 2 '17 at 18:51
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    For Google, the pages each have to provide a good user experience and differentiate themselves from other similar pages. If they don't, then Google could penalize your entire website. This does mean that to use your strategy, you need to come up with some unique content for each location. It could include things like popular wedding venues in that city, testimonials from your customers there, photos from weddings there, or stats about the number and types of wedding you have planned there. About half of each page could be duplicated or "boilerplate". – Stephen Ostermiller Oct 2 '17 at 18:58
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If the pages are different in any way, even if you are just switching the location name, then don't use canonical. From what you said, the rankings were better off without canonical, so at this point don't worry about any duplicate content penalty. Try inserting at least one different paragraph about each city in the location pages and you should be fine.

  • That's great to know. I guess it's worth taking the risk at this point. – user3574492 Oct 2 '17 at 19:17

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