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I have a website hosting thousands of photos that we taken in real life. My problem comes down to advanced pagination.

Currently, I have the site divided into photo albums then galleries in each album which is ok. The problem begins when the gallery starts and the individual pictures are accessed from an SEO perspective. The reason is because in each gallery, people can choose to either view a small number of photos or a large number of photos at a time. These numbers are always chosen from a fixed list. (From this point on, I will refer to these numbers as NPP). To make navigation simple and concrete to both search engines and people and to minimize code size, each image in the gallery requires the NPP in the URL. The problem is that the page could be duplicated the number of times there are different NPP values to choose from. In my setup now, people can choose any of 4 NPP values and thus each image page could be duplicated 3x according to search engines.

If I confused you, I'll explain the rough folder structure used on my site to illustrate the problem. Each folder below is relative to document root for the domain.

/ = Photo albums home page
/venue-name/ = Photo gallery listing for venue.
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/ = Redirect to 500 photos per page for same venue and dated MM-DD-YYYY.
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/500pp = 500 photos per page for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/100pp = 100 photos per page for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/200pp = 200 photos per page for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/50pp = 50 photos per page for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/50pp/image/1 = 1st image for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/100pp/image/1 = 1st image for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/200pp/image/1 = 1st image for same venue and same date
/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/500pp/image/1 = 1st image for same venue and same date

As you can see, everything is fine until the individual images part (last 4 lines). The page in each of the last 4 URL's is exactly the same. I have thought of cookies and tried cookies to store the NPP but that wouldn't help because a user might have different preferences from a search engine and I'm also running advertisements and do not want a robot thinking a page is messed up because it displays differently to a user than to a robot all because of a cookie.

Now if this was my site and users didn't care, then I would only use 100 for NPP and follow more of the 100 links per page rule and then I can eliminate the rest of this but unfortunately, the majority of the users want NPP of 500. I added the other options so others don't have to wait long to see pictures.

Also, because I'm referencing galleries from elsewhere on the site, I feel I have to make a concrete decision on the NPP or use a cookie, but because I'm running advertisements I don't want to confuse the robots.

I have also tried this:

/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/image/1 = 1st image for same venue and same date

But If I do that then when the user uses the go back feature, then they can't keep their preferences without a cookie because nothing in the URL shows the NPP.

Does anyone have an idea how I should go about fixing this potential duplicate content issue without making users lose their settings or making robots messed up?

  • Just use canonical URLs. – John Conde Dec 2 '14 at 16:06
  • Why can't the user "keep their preference" when going back? If I'm on /date/100pp then go to /image/1, pressing the back button will load /date/100pp. – DisgruntledGoat Dec 6 '14 at 12:54
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When you have the same content available at many different URLs, you can use URL canonicalization to tell which set of URLs are the preferred ones for search engines to crawl and index.

Google introduced a link rel canonical meta tag for this purpose. Lets say that you want to make 500 photos per page the canonical URL. On the other URLs (/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/50pp, /venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/100pp, etc) you would include this in the head:

  <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/venue-name/MM-DD-YYYY/500pp" />

That way Googlebot will only focus on the pages with 500 images per page.

Do the same thing for the image pages themselves. Choose one version to be the canonical and put the tag on the other versions.

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