Let's say that I have a 2 parent Product Categories as follows:

  • Decor: You can browse all Decor related products here. From a Navigational perspective, this will allow visitors to browse via Products.
  • Kitchen: You can browse all Kitchen related Products here. From a Navigational perspective, this will allow visitors to browse via Room.

Then let's say the site has a Food themed Clock. As such, this Product could be placed within both 'Decor' and 'Kitchen'. As such, product the follow URL structures:

  • www.example.com/decor/product-name/
  • www.example.com/kitchen/product-name/

Canonical URL:

Obviously, the issue of duplicate content would need to be dealt with first. To deal with this, the product page, would contain the following entry:

rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product/product-name/"

I am aware that Canonicalisation is a way to 'tell' search engines the preferred version of a URL and thus, where to distribute its PageRank etc.

Question:

With the product page, now appearing within both Product Categories, will it pass any context to its respective Product Categories? With the mentioned product page being optimised for both 'decor' and 'kitchen' related keyword(s), would this inform search engines and as such, help contribute to the context of both Product Categories?

  • Canonical links do not effect Pagerank. Not in the classical sense. They do effect which pages are returned in the SERPs. There are cases where a pages rank is increased with enough canonical links, however, this does not follow the Pagerank model so please separate the two concepts. Pagerank and canonical links are two separate constructs and live at two different ends of the process in two different engines. Also, canonical links do not effectively change how a page is indexed or how a search query returns a result set, but does change how pages are ordered within the result set. Clear? – closetnoc May 11 at 5:48
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    I want to be clear on one point. Canonical links cannot be a part of the Pagerank algorithm simply because one, it is an incomplete set of data points, and two, because they are unreliable by nature and can easily be fraudulent. – closetnoc May 11 at 6:08
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    Canonical's do pass page rank, as stated by Google: webmasters.googleblog.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html – Max Jul 12 at 3:25
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    Also 'canonical links do not effectively change how a page is indexed'. I'd say in nearly every situation I have seen, when a page has been canonicalised to another page, eventually it is removed form the index. – Max Jul 12 at 3:27

rel="canonical" doesn't pass any pagerank. It just declares the right version of page that you want search engines to index (search engine robots will crawl both versions).

Neither URL has anything to do with page rank flow and declaring the relationship between pages.

A very best solution for such situation is to remove /category/ from the URL and let the url be domain.com/product.

You can pass the value of product page to category listing page by implementing breadcrumb and internal link building from the product page to the categories.

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    The problem with breadcrumbs is if you place an item in more than one category, it can be confusing to show the "wrong" category (the one a visitor didn't navigate from) if you don't implement some kind of advanced functionality to make the breadcrumbs dynamically display whichever category they came from, or a default if they didn't come from a category at all. – WebElaine Jun 11 at 14:47
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    @WebElaine: I suppose one simple solution, to your highlighted query, may be to set the Product Breadcrumbs to Home > Product Name (thus completely removing the Category names from the Breadcrumbs altogether) and then create a Sidebar Navigation, tailored to the relevant Product Category(ies). – Craig Jun 11 at 17:06
  • Breadcrumbs that include the category give search engines a little hint about context though which can be helpful for SEO, and can also be helpful to users wanting to return to a category - or see all the products in the same category as the product they're viewing, especially if they landed on the product from search and it's almost but not quite what they're looking for. – WebElaine Jun 11 at 17:46
  • @WebElaine: I agree on the notion that Categories help to provide context. That said, Product Categories, should be targeting different sets of Keyword(s) and user intent. For example, /shelves/ may be present within both .../wall-decor/ and .../wall-storage/. Though the rel=canonical attribute would typically link to .../product/shelf-product. To help provide the required context, not only would a Sidebar Navigation be helpful but also the use of a 'Similar Products' or a 'Recently Viewed' Carousel. You could also insert a 'This product can be found in XYZ Category' too. – Craig Jun 11 at 20:44
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    Canonical's do pass page rank, as stated by Google: webmasters.googleblog.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html – Max Jul 12 at 3:24

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