3

I'm totally revamping my site's URL structure and have now defined the following structure of URLs to prevent duplicate content (in which the /c/ part in the URL determines that a country filter is applied) and each URL has the corresponding canonical URL (some I'm still not sure of and are marked with OR):

  1. URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts
    Canonical URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts

  2. URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts/boston
    Canonical URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts/boston

  3. URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts/region-boston
    Canonical URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts/boston

  4. URL: /vendors/venues/beach/restaurants
    Canonical URL: /vendors/venues/beach/restaurants OR /vendors/venues?

  5. URL: /vendors/venues/beach/restaurants/c/usa/massachusetts/boston
    Canonical URL: /vendors/venues/c/usa/massachusetts/boston OR /vendors/venues/beach/restaurants/c/usa/massachusetts/boston?

As you can see users are allowed to add multiple venue categories, in this case just beach and restaurant, but users can filter down using more than 20 venues categories. Venue category filters are added in front of the /c/ part in the URL.

Now my question is: is this the recommended and most logical URL structure and canonical URL approach? And for items 4 and 5 specifically, which canonical URL is recommended?

update 1

Regarding "venues for Boston vs Boston-region" (example 2 vs 3). When loading these URLs, the results on the first 10 pages are exactly the same, as I'm sorting by georadius from city center outwards. The first URL shows only venues in the city of Boston whereas the second has a greater radius to include more venues. I do not know on which page the results really start to differ, it might be page 11, or page 14 etc. Should I perhaps remove 1 of these URLs? Or what would be the canonical URL? I'm now thinking I should set the canonical URL of URL 3 to URL 2 (and omitting all pagenumbers in this canonical URL)

3
+50

Two pages should use the same canonical URL only if the contents of the pages are substantially the same.

In your case, it doesn't sound like any of your proposed pages will have the same content.

  • venues for Boston vs Boston-region. There will be some overlap, but won't the region page have many more on it? If users care enough about the distinction, then they care enough about the distinction to find it through search engines
  • A page about Boston beach restaurants sound very different than a page about Boston restaurants in general.

When users can filter by multiple categories at once, it is usually better not to let search engines crawl results with multiple filters applied. Users may be interested in "Italian restaurants in Boston", but there is going to be almost nobody searching for "Italian beach restaurants in Boston"

  • Thanks! I updated my post with an additional update based on your feedback. Could you have a look? It primarily relates to paging in results where some pages are exactly the same, but only on other (higher) pagenumbers the content really starts to differ. – Flo Dec 11 '15 at 14:58
  • Rather than sorting by distance from city center, you should probably sort by some sort of rating. That would both serve users' interests better as well as provide differentiation between the pages for search engines. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 11 '15 at 16:43
  • thanks. I'm already doing that, highest rated first, then on distance from city. Still I'd end up with a lot of similar content for the first X pages....how to handle that..."canonically wise"? – Flo Dec 11 '15 at 17:54
  • 1
    Small amounts of duplicate content within your site won't hurt you. I wouldn't use canonical at all. If Google thinks that the pages are too duplicate, it just won't index one of them. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 11 '15 at 18:10
  • Thanks. And you mean no canonical tags for any of the links in my original post? And regarding your comment "When users can filter by multiple categories at once, it is usually better not to let search engines crawl results with multiple filters applied." So would you add a <meta name="robots" content="noindex"> metatag when users filter on multiple categories? What are you recommending exactly? – Flo Dec 14 '15 at 2:17
1

To create valuable rel=canonical designations:

  • Verify that most of the main text content of a duplicate page also appears in the canonical page.
  • Check that rel=canonical is only specified once (if at all) and in the of the page.
  • Check that rel=canonical points to an existent URL with good content (i.e., not a 404, or worse, a soft 404).
  • Avoid specifying rel=canonical from landing or category pages to featured articles as that will make the featured article the preferred URL in search results.

More reading here.

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