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I have a link to a product page like this:

/products/pandora-midcalf

The page can be linked to from our internal search engine to go to a specific color, by adding the id of the color like this:

/products/pandora-midcalf:13761

All that happens is JavaScript changes the color selection and the picture. IT's the same page. But google indexes them both and lists them as duplicates in google webmaster tools.

I can't use the query parameters to exclude the 2nd variation, I could use a canonical link on both pages pointing to the first?

So what should I do?

EDIT: I could also just change the title and description of both versions of the page, and have the version with the color info add " - Red" to the title. Just want to make sure I do the right think SEO wise.

  • Would a user benefit from going straight to the "Red" version of the page (with a different picture?) rather than (what appears to be) the canonical page? – MrWhite Mar 25 '15 at 0:40
  • They might. If they were searching for the red one. – danjfoley Mar 25 '15 at 1:02
  • Is Google interpreting the JS and indexing the "Red" page and still thinking it's duplicate (because it's very similar) or is it simply not executing the JS and seeing the two pages as exact duplicates? – MrWhite Mar 25 '15 at 1:10
  • Seeing the two pages as exact duplicates. The js only changes the image and the drop down color selection. And in my mind they are the same page. – danjfoley Mar 25 '15 at 1:16
  • Actually I take that back..google indexes them as separate pages and gives me a duplicate content warning in web master tools. So someone out there is linking to the page variation not the main page. I want the juice for both pages to be combined into the same page – danjfoley Mar 25 '15 at 1:24
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I will recommend you to set canonical to stop googlebot from seeing duplicated content. I can not see a better way to accomplish this.

Also for those slightly different same product pages I would recommend you to set a noindex, follow combination meta tag. In consequence similar pages will stop from appearing in SERP and send a strong message to google about what is the most important page. Also the follow instruction will help you to pass the juice from backlinks. If you are concerned about queries with different colors try to create an optimal meta description tag that list some of the most popular colors.

  • I agree with the canonical tag, however, I wouldn't recommend setting a noindex robots tag as well, if that is what you are implying? That would send a mixed signal. – MrWhite Mar 25 '15 at 14:52
  • Yes not recommended to use noindex in this case, it may have unpredictable or negative ramifications, especially considering the non standard query structure (bots may think its a port or something) – dhaupin Mar 25 '15 at 15:15
  • agreed. I'm going with the canonical tag. Not going to mess with anything else. – danjfoley Mar 25 '15 at 16:52
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It depends a bit on what you actually want to achieve:

  • do you want to turn the product sub-pages into real pages in the long run? Then go for individual urls, titles, images – and then you should also try to avoid Javascript to make the individual content search engine friendly. Actually you could also make javascript parameters crawlable – check for "hash-bang" (#!) to mark your parameters.

  • or do you rather want to strengthen the actual product pages by 'hiding' the sub-pages ? Then you should try to focus on the actual product pages and try to hide the subpages – you can use 301 redirects for external visitors and sitemaps (and other methods) to try to draw google's attention to the main product page.

Either way: try to avoid duplicate content by any means.

See also "Dynamic URLs vs. static URLs " and "Google, duplicate content caused by URL parameters, and you" from Google's official Webmaster Central Blog for further deteails on this matter.

  • I want to increase the juice for the overall product page..not looking to subdivide them – danjfoley Mar 25 '15 at 0:04
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You can set canonicals, or make robots.txt rules, but you should also "teach" googlebot and bingbot how to use parameters on your site using their respective areas in webmaster tools. It is found under "Crawl > URL Parameters" in GWT sidebar. It is found under "configure my site > Ignore URL Parameters" in BWT sidebar. Its easier to teach googlebot since bingbot only understands how to ignore.

This may be a bit tricky though because unfortunately, you dont really use querystrings in your example (its more like a port). Is it possible to change syntax from /products/pandora-midcalf:13761 to /products/pandora-midcalf&hue=13761? It would be clearer this way and bots/scripts/apps could understand or use it better.

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