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I have an paginated category URL that displays all items in a category.

Each item has its own individual view page.

In the event that an item has gone permanently offline I have implemented a 301 redirect to the first page of the category. I have added a url/GET parameter to indicate a small offline content flash message should be displayed at the top of this category page.

e.g.

www.example.com/item/offline-book

redirects to:

www.example.com/category/book?message=item.offline

which has a canonical link in its head:

www.example.com/category/book

with an additional message:

'Sorry, this item is no longer available. Please check out our similar items'

I have added this message parameter to the URL parameters in my webmaster tools, suggesting that it doesn't change the content.

Is this correct? It technically does change the content a minimal amount.

  • Is a flash message one that is powered by Adobe flash player? – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 12 '16 at 12:09
  • @StephenOstermiller No, sorry, it's a term from the Yii framework.. just a closable red div at the top of the page. – Arth Jul 12 '16 at 12:22
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Regarding the parameters setting in Webmaster tools - you should only define these if you did not have the message from google displayed: "Currently Googlebot isn't experiencing problems with coverage of your site, so you don't need to configure URL parameters. (Incorrectly configuring parameters can result in pages from your site being dropped from our index, so we don't recommend you use this tool unless necessary.)". If that message is not displayed, then you can go ahead and add the parameters that don't change the content. Yes, your message parameter would be classed as non-content-changing.

  • I have the pagination set up with the `rel="next/prev" as you describe, along with the canonical to the current page. I don't have the message you describe, so I guess I'm golden! – Arth Jul 12 '16 at 14:02
  • The advice here link says: rel="next" and rel="prev" are orthogonal concepts to rel="canonical". You can include both declarations. For example, http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2&sessionid=123 may contain: <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2"/> <link rel="prev" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1&sessionid=123" /> <link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3&sessionid=123" /> – Agata - Business Ahead UK Jul 12 '16 at 14:06
  • I've edited my answer to clarify the tags. – Agata - Business Ahead UK Jul 12 '16 at 14:23
  • That's cool, but I didn't really need the examples, I have the pagination setup already. It was more of a question about adding the 'message' param as a non-content URL parameter with webmaster tools. – Arth Jul 12 '16 at 14:57
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    No worries - I've edited my answer to focus on your question. – Agata - Business Ahead UK Jul 12 '16 at 15:01

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