0

When you are building a site which has a search result page, (similar to https://webmasters.stackexchange.com/unanswered for example) which has excerpts from each article and a link to the article, how do you instruct the search engine to direct users to the actual article not the results page?

If we had the content replicated on another page we could use rel='canonical' which would essentially do this at a page level, but what happens when you have excerpts from multiple pages in the same physical page?

Does this even matter at all? SE doesn't seem to do anything special here (that I could see). I just really don't want users to ever be directed to a results page when they could get the article content instead.

1

Originally, aggregate pages were designed to be landing pages that would perform well in search engines. It was a way of attracting users to your site. Today, while this still can work, it is less of a factor. Some people de-tune these pages so that they do not outperform the original content. This makes sense if the aggregate page is for humans instead of machines. However, if you think that this page should perform well in search then the page would have to be tuned carefully. eBay does this to perfection.

You do not have to do anything "canonical" for this. You just have to decide if you want the page to perform well in search or not. From there, it is about tuning your pages.

4
  • You say 'perform well', I would like the search page to never show up in search results based on the content excerpts, but I would still like search engines to use the page to discover articles in my site. Does this make sense? How would I go about de-tuning the page to achieve this without stopping the crawler using the page to discover others? – Not loved Feb 26 '15 at 1:33
  • 1
    You are on the right track. These pages are great for search engines to find other pages. And being constantly fresh, Google will hit them often. De-tuning can be as simple as using blank title tags and description meta-tags, though I do not recommend this. I would simply make sure that the content pages perform perfectly and that the aggregate pages have titles and descriptions that are not keyword oriented and use lower value header tags (h3, h4, ...) for the listings. – closetnoc Feb 26 '15 at 1:42
  • Cool, i already have the aggregate pages using lower headers, and articles using h1 (as I think is recommended) Basically you are saying the search engine will be smart enough to choose correctly assuming the articles are correctly annotated. – Not loved Feb 26 '15 at 3:05
  • You got it! Just make sure your content pages perform as well as they can. That is key. You can de-tune your aggregate pages all you want, but if your content does not perform well, then what have you done? – closetnoc Feb 26 '15 at 3:25
1

I would like the search page to never show up in search results based on the content excerpts, but I would still like search engines to use the page to discover articles in my site.

After reading your other comments, the answer seems pretty simple. You can just tell search engines to crawl your pages but not to index them by adding a meta tag:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

Don't just de-tune your pages and hope SE's won't index those pages. You can fully control this yourself.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.