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My website is an e-commerce based site and therefore has a few back-end duplicate content issues that im trying to fix. I have added the canonical tag to the majority of my back-end category pages which are the same/similar to the front end pages, my question is shall I optimize the back end pages in the hope they pass some form of link 'juice'? Or shall I leave them un-optimized as they currently are (so they don't rank against current pages?).

There is no direct link to the back-end category pages but these pages do contain links to back-end product pages if this has an effect? As ive heard that you shouldn't really link to pages that have used these tags.

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    Back end pages shouldn't be indexed by search engines. Therefore, improving SEO of these pages is not necessary. – Zistoloen Jun 16 '16 at 10:13
  • They still appear to be ranking in some instances, does this mean the tag isn't working? – Jvital Jun 16 '16 at 10:16
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    If I were you, I would use the no-index meta tag for these pages and block them all in your robots.txt. – Zistoloen Jun 16 '16 at 10:18
  • So that would mean removing the canonical tag for the no-index tag? Does the no-index tag work outside of the <head> tag? As I am unable to put code inside the <head> section of my website. – Jvital Jun 16 '16 at 10:59
  • Yes and no. But you can use the no-index feature with your .htaccess file if you use Apache as a web server. – Zistoloen Jun 16 '16 at 12:25
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Here's my answer considering your comments.

Back end pages shouldn't be indexed by search engines because they are useless for visitors. It means that optimizing SEO of these pages is not necessary.

To no-index these pages, you can use the no-index meta tag for the <head> section of your pages and add these pages to your robots.txt. If you can't modify the <head> section, you can use the no-index feature with your .htaccess file if you use Apache as a web server (described here).

For a non indexed web page, the rel="canonical" is useless.

  • Hello, Is there another alternative to adding the no-index feature to the htaccess file? As we are unable to get to this part of the server also. <head> isn't something we can access either, does this mean there is no way that I can no-index my page? As I know this is effecting SEO for certain keywords as these pages are still ranking. – Jvital Jun 21 '16 at 8:15
  • If you can't access to the HTML or the .htaccess file, you can't work efficiently and for me, there is no other way to manage the no-index feature than the three described in the provided link. – Zistoloen Jun 21 '16 at 10:11
  • I can access the html of the site, but only on a level where its a template with tags inside which fills out the majority of the important HTML when a page is created and optimized etc. If I was to add this tag to the <head> part of my site through the html, it would then be on all pages on the site which isn't what im trying to do. This is what is causing the majority of the issues, is the fact I cannot edit an individual pages html. – Jvital Jun 21 '16 at 10:39
  • If you can't add a if (server side with PHP for instance) to identify the page you run with the template, the only solution I know is to modify the .htaccess file. Ask for it. – Zistoloen Jun 21 '16 at 12:01
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I am assuming that you're using a custom e-com script which doesn't explicitly block the back end pages from search engines. Otherwise, there is no reason for backend pages to be indexed.

Considering your backend pages fall within an admin sub-category, you may include in in robots.txt

user-agent: *
disallow: /admin/

If the admin is within a sub-domain, you may use the following

user-agent: *
disallow: admin.example.com

Adding this will make sure that all your backend pages falling either under the subcategory or subdomain won't be indexed by search engines.

  • Will the pages still be indexed if they are only shown as not to be indexed through the robots.txt? As this seems to be the only place that I can access that will have any significance? – Jvital Jun 21 '16 at 8:17
  • If you disallow the back-end pages, they won't be indexed but your primary (front end) pages will. There is also a robots.txt analyzer on Google search console where you can check what are the pages your robots file would be blocking. – pro_ng Jun 21 '16 at 8:20
  • I have tried this and realized that I don't have access to the robots.txt either as we are using an online website platform which is a bit frustrating. Is there no way for websites like mine to block a page properly? Seems a bit odd if there isn't? – Jvital Jun 21 '16 at 10:06
  • If you don't have FTP access to the root where you can upload/edit the robots file, then the only option is to add a meta robots tag to the header of all admin pages <meta name="robots" content="noindex" . These are the only two options available to you. – pro_ng Jun 21 '16 at 10:14
  • So the tag wouldn't work at all if it was placed inside the <body> part of the site? The only way that I can add to the <head> part of the site is if I add it site-wide, this means that every page would have the no-index tag which certainly isn't something we want to do. This is part of the frustration I am having.. – Jvital Jun 21 '16 at 10:36
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I would suggest removing those pages from the site. As you said, these pages are in the backend, so they are not adding any value to the users. Also, you have similar pages with the similar keywords targeted on the front end site so why we need extra pages.

You should delete those pages from your website. If they are receiving any traffic from search or any referral links then add 301 redirect and move all the visitors to the new pages. It is seo friendly way to move your traffic from one page to another.

Do not forget to block these pages in robots.txt file and deindex it. If you keep the pages as it is then there are chances that Google crawler will get confuse between two similar pages and they will outrank you for the targeted keyword.

  • Presuming back-end refers to an admin area or control panel, just deleting them certainly isn't an option. – Andrew Lott Jun 18 '16 at 15:43
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    Ok then you can hide them by using robots.txt file. That is the easiest way to control the pages. – Prashant Gorule Jun 20 '16 at 15:25
  • How do you go about hiding them through the robots.txt file? And would this work if it is the only thing telling search engines not to index? – Jvital Jun 21 '16 at 8:18
  • @Jvital. Add this tag in the robots.txt file to disallow the backend. User-agent: * Disallow: /backend/ - Mention your file path in the place of backend. This will block the search engine from crawling the pages of that perticular file. – Prashant Gorule Jun 21 '16 at 13:40

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