Last weekend I presented a few talks on SEO and Product Writing at the huge MODA fashion trade show at the NEC in Birmingham. After the talks there were lots of questions and one that reoccurred was about duplicate product problems on eCommerce websites.

One of the scenarios was a store that sold a scarf. This was essentially one product but it came in different colours and lengths. The owners had a separate product listing for all colours and lengths because they didn’t want their shop to look empty with just one item on the virtual shelf.

The problem was that the product information on all the pages was exactly the same apart from the length and colour and this would be seen as duplicate content by the search engines.

Solution 1 – Have a quick redesign and reorganise

Shopping BasketIf you are only selling one product, all be it with different options, you don’t really need a conventional style shopping cart layout with categories and product pages. If you try to fit one product into an out-of-the-box install of Magento or Woocommerce then your shop will look empty.

Buy a new minimal looking theme for your shopping cart system and condense the amount of pages as much as possible so the buying process looks like this:

Home Page – for a very visual look at the scarfs.

Product Info Page – just one page explaining all about the product. Use this page for all your content, descriptions and as much info and pictures as you can produce. Include a nice big ‘Buy Now’ button.

Buying Page – Just a simple page with a small picture of the scarf and all the colours and lengths listed as drop down options.

Using this type of organisation takes away the use of categories or multiple product pages but still makes the website look fantastic and easy to use.

If you sell many products but only some are very similar then use the same approach where you just create one product page with the options in drop down lists.

Solution 2 – Use canonical pages

The canonical tag is a bit of code that’s inserted into the you web page that tells the search engines what the original or main page is on a group of pages.

One example would be category pages that can be sorted by date, newest products, price. All these pages are essentially the same apart from the products being in a different order and they can be seems as duplicate content. The canonical tag can be used to tell the search engines what the correct or main version of the page is and to ignore all the others.

You could use this for your duplicate product pages.

Decide which product page is going to be the main page and make a note of the web address.

Code TagOn ALL the pages insert the following code:

<link rel=”canonical” content=”http://www.yourwebsite.com/your-main-page” />

This code will tell the search engines which is the main preferred page.

What you will also need to do is cross link or set up a related products section so that all the products cross link to each other.

Conclusion

In a perfect world solution 1 is going to work the best, give a top user experience and make it easier for you to manage.

Dealing with similar products can be a little tricky but the best option from an SEO and user point of view is to condense and simplify as much as you can. If you make it tricky for customer to find the product they want it may affect your conversion rates.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments and fire away with any questions.