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I'm creating a "directory" website that has many pages, each belongs to a category and a sub-category.

I have category pages that will list all the pages that belong to the categories.

Example:

example.com/categories/blue-widgets/

Will show user all blue widgets (100 items - each links to specific page)

example.com/categories/blue-widgets/blue-mixed-with-red/

Will show user all blue mixed with red widgets (similarly, 20 items).

This is supposed to be good also for SEO, to make the first level accessible to the crawler too.

But under this logic, I also have to make example.com/categories/ accessible, and I don't want to show all 1000+ items in this page, because it's too much, and not useful for users.

So I thought maybe displaying in this page only the categories and sub categories, but this is exactly what I plan to do on the homepage, so I think it might be silly and wrong-SEO wise to have this kind of duplicate.

If I make a 302 redirect from categories to the homepage, that also doesn't feel right.

So, what is your suggestion, SEO/Content/UX wise? It's important to note my main concern about this page is more in the SEO perespective.

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Why not just remove the categories keyword from the link if you don't need it for listing and have something like this?

example.com/blue-widgets/

example.com/blue-widgets/blue-mixed-with-red/

However, if you think that in future you may have so many categories that it won't be possible to put all categories on the homepage, you may continue to have a categories page with just category names and sub-category names. Just design it a little different from the homepage so people don't get confused while moving from homepage->categories or categories->homepage. Redirecting is not a good idea as people will get confused.

But under this logic, I also have to make example.com/categories/ accessible, and I don't want to show all 1000+ items in this page, because it's too much, and not useful for users.

You don't have to necessarily make example.com/categories/ page accessible - it's good practice to make it accessible (as some people may alter the link manually) but not necessary SEO wise.

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example.com/categories/blue-widgets/

Will show user all blue widgets (100 items - each links to specific page)

example.com/categories/blue-widgets/blue-mixed-with-red/

Will show user all blue mixed with red widgets (similarly, 20 items).

As per your SEO concerns, there is nothing wrong having multiple pages with same content, as there is way to deal with it by applying canonical tags.

I've done SEO of many eCommerce websites which has same structures, what I do is.

1 example.com/categories/
2 example.com/categories/subcategories/
3 example.com/categories/subcategories/product
4 example.com/product

SEO of product URL and making all other product pages having category and subcategory points to this URL to tell Google that the original page is "example.com/product"

Why?

To reduce the depth of the main page and get benefit of highly optimized URL.

Why to keep other pages?

You can target other keywords on them, on category page you can target some generic keywords, add some content having information regarding your category, similarly subcategory page will follow.

Having multiple pages is good as Google loves fresh and quality content having sites.

But under this logic, I also have to make example.com/categories/ accessible, and I don't want to show all 1000+ items in this page, because it's too much, and not useful for users.

It is good to show all content, use pagination, it's also helpful in SEO. Suggestion - you can allow filter or put tags such that users can choose trending, latest, etc.

If I make a 302 redirect from categories to the homepage, that also doesn't feel right.

Avoid 302 redirect, they're not recommended.

If you've more query on this then leave your comments.

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