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We run a national search directory and have thousands of urls that are indexed with search results. I have several questions based on varying opinions that I have seen online.

1) Should these search results pages be set to crawl or not? Thousands of pages are indexed by Google (similar to our competitors) and contain important keywords (city and state, etc.), but I am unable to determine if we are penalized for this or should just leave them as being crawlable content.

2) Some of these urls have potentially duplicate content. Should I redirect these as 301s? I'm hesitant because we cannot have a drop in traffic. If traffic will drop, should I just leave them indexed but no longer a link on our site?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  • you say you cannot have a drop in traffic. But if you are getting some of the wrong kinds of traffic (possibly due to large amounts of archives that are not updated) then would it not be acceptable to "trim the fat" so to speak? – KnightHawk Aug 12 '16 at 16:57
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1) If your dynamic content can be recalled consistently using query strings in the URL, then make sure your parameter settings are correct and let Google index it all. In Google Search Console, go to Crawl -> URL Parameters. If your content cannot be called consistently then it will be demoted by Google and may even earn you a penalty.

2) Duplicate or very similar content should be handled with canonical links.. Not 301 redirects.

  • Thank you so much! I will keep the urls indexed and use canonical links. Great answer! – jallen Aug 12 '16 at 15:49
  • Although the "dynamic content" discussed here are "search results pages", which Google has stated for a long time should not be indexed because of the "low value to users". Google wants to index the content that your "search results" point to. Do users benefit from finding your "search results pages" in Google's "search results pages"? – DocRoot Aug 12 '16 at 18:07
  • Hi DocRoot, one more question. For optimal routing, it would be ideal to change the urls. If this is done with good 301s, will we lose traffic? Better to keep the urls that are indexed and forego the change? – jallen Aug 15 '16 at 13:09

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