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I have a website with online puzzle games. Sometimes, I create a puzzle variation based on an existing one. A change in initial conditions or distribution of elements can change the game, the solution, etc. But description of puzzle remains basically the same. So I end up with two similar pages, like these:

http://www.puzzlopia.com/puzzles/neutralizator/play http://www.puzzlopia.com/puzzles/neutralizator-ii/play

What would be a good strategy to tell google this is similar content, but not duplicated? I want to avoid SEO penalties, even if almost all text is the same (What changes is the javascript code, some names and some images).

I'm not sure if meta canonical tag would work or would confuse google.

Thanks in advance!

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Your question totally depends on how you want to solve it :

Use single page for puzzle + its variants

If you have multiple variation of same puzzle, then you can showcase them on single page**

http://www.puzzlopia.com/puzzles/neutralizator/play

  • show all variants of above puzzle on above page only


Multiple Pages For Variants :

1) Primary / Main Page rank only

If different pages are required, then do you want them to be indexed/searchable separately in google index or you want to get the main page ranked and how variants links on the main page

Example :

Puzzle 1 page is ranked and all variants links are shown on this page.

Then setting canonical on variants to main puzzle page will not confuse google as setting canonical indicates that the content is attributed to main page or is similar to the main page

In this case only the main puzzle page will be indexed by google and it will get seo extract from all variants as well.

2) Variants to be ranked separately

If you want all variants also to rank separately.

Yes this can also be done by setting proper namespacing in the urls i.e. don't make urls like: puzzle/1/1 puzzle/1/2 Making url names meaningful help you index your content better:

So make them like : puzzle/rubik/three-cross-three , puzzle/rubik/four-cross-four ......

Also the major content on page title, description, h1 etc should differ for all pages.

Some content should be different and some of the content i.e. the base content can be same.

Following above + other seo practices you can rank individual variants as well.

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