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I'm creating pages to consolidate and display public data for individual physical properties.

The problem is, some properties have multiple valid addresses (the keyword). Some times these are ranges, other times it can be different street names. Sometimes the address point to different buildings within one large property. So I cannot arbitrarily pick a default address.

From a user experience perspective the page title and content heading (h1) should show the address the user was looking for, the url should be in the form of /<parcel_id>/<address-slug>, and the aliases shown somewhere on the page. However, if I do this I'll end up with lots of "near-duplicates".

Is there a "proper" way to deal with this type of problem?

  • The real question is how people search for pages like yours? That would be your answer. Otherwise, the closeness would not bother me- the parcel id and street address number should be enough to distinguish one from another. But if users do not care about parcel id or the street address number but rather the property type, street, town, etc- then that is where you need to begin focusing. – closetnoc Mar 17 '15 at 19:50
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The URL and the H1 don't have to match what the user was searching for. Creating many near-duplicate pages can run your site afoul of the Google guidelines for "doorway pages". Google announced just today that they are going to be identifying doorway pages better and cracking down on them even more.

If somebody searches for "15 main st", but the parcel in question is "10-18 Main St.", users will be able to figure that out if the range is used in the URL slug and H1. If a property is on two streets, consider adding them both to H1: "15 Main St and 10 Cross St".

Many websites have similar problems:

  • Products have both names and part numbers
  • Many sites want to rank for their industry terms and synonyms
  • People search for full names and abbreviations
  • Names change so often an item has an "old name" and a "new name"

The best practice is to use as many of the variants as you can on your pages. You need to do so in a way that doesn't look unnatural or spammy. You could consider creating a section on the page titled "Other addresses for this parcel" and listing up to 10 of them in it. I've even seen popular sites have a section titled "What people search for to get to this page."

You can also use anchor text to associate the other names for your page. From the "Main St." page you could link to the parcel as "15 Main St." and from the "Cross St." page you could link to the parcel as "10 Cross St." Google often uses anchor text to associate keywords for pages. Google will sometimes even rewrite titles as used in the search results with this information to better match what the user searches for.

  • Thanks for the tip on Doorway pages. I believe these pages will survive the change as they aren't acting as funnels, and provide useful information. However, I'll make sure they are well linked internally (as currently they're only reachable from google). I decided to pick the first address (lexicographically) and list the remaining in a table at the bottom of the page, this seems to be working, but I wonder if we'll rank lower in the SERP for these addresses. – Charles Mar 25 '15 at 21:10

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