Magento is one of the top open e-commerce platforms with a very large number of users. However, it depicts one particular weakness; duplicate pages via multiple URLs. Contrary to what many people believe, you will not get slapped with a penalty by Google because your content is on a different and functional website. However, duplicate content greatly affects crawlers and how search engines indexes websites. Therefore, duplicate content will greatly compromise a website’s effectiveness in organic search ranking.
Implications of duplicate content on SEO
In a simple way, websites with duplicate content perform poorly in ranking SERPs compared to those with original content. The duplicate pages easily confuse search engines making Google filter them from its index.
Google points out that when your site contains duplicate content; it is more of what page should be shown and less about penalties. Google targets enhancing the quality of content it carries to clients and encourages websites to diversify as opposed to posting duplicate content.
To rank higher in Google, it is prudent to ensure there are no duplicate pages on your company website. Rather, you need to target getting a separate page on every topic and featuring entirely unique content depending on the respective topic.
What are the main causes and solutions to duplicate content in Magento?
Multiple product page URLs
Magento categorizes all products added to its platform based on their categories. This means that if you include a product in various categories, it can be accessed using various URLs.
Here is a demonstration of product 1 added to three categories;
www.example.com/category1/product-1 www.example.com/category2/product-1 www.example.com/category3/product-1
The problem at this point is that Google accesses three URLs that contain similar content. Therefore, which one gets displayed? If a search engine crawls all the three pages, there will be a lot of confusion on which page should be indexed.
One of the simplest solutions to the issue is using high-quality product URLs. To do this in Magento, navigate to the system>configuration>catalog>search engine optimization. Once on the Search Engine Optimization, check NO in the Use Categories Path on the drop-down menu of Product URLs.
You are done! Every product you add will no longer add new URLs based on categories. However, you must bear in mind that some products might already have created URLs using the categories model and picked by Google. At this point, you need to use 301 redirects redirecting visitors from URLs based on categories to the new top-level-product URL.
Just like other e-commerce selling platforms, Magento utilizes a faceted navigation model that makes it possible for visitors to narrow down to preferred product categories. As a result, query strings are included at the end of product URLs that can result to duplicate content when handled incorrectly.
Have a look at these two URLs that all point to the same item
If Google crawled the two URLs, the original category pages would be subdued because of the presence of multiple version pages. You can only resolve the issue via a rel=canonical tag addition at the header of every page.
Rel=canonical tags provide a unique method of telling search engines what your preferred version of the duplicate content is. Though visitors can still access even the filtered content, search engines will understand what should be crawled and indexed.
Implementing rel=canonical tags in Magento
Because of numerous products on various e-commerce sites, adding rel=canonical tags would be a monumental task. But Magento has created a unique option for handling your rel-canonical tags.
You can activate canonicals by navigating to Magento System > Configuration > Catalog > SEO. At the last point, on Search Engine Optimization, enable the following options;
- Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories
- Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products
Make sure to save the settings, the categories that have applied filters will display additional canonical link elements referencing original product category page. This new URL will be lacking the UTM parameters.
How to steer away from duplicating content manually in Magento
While we have brought out the default settings that bring about duplicate content in Magento, it is important to point there are very many cases resulting from the manual application. You must also avoid these cases if your site is to rank well in search results.
A lot of products on e-commerce are in many cases similar but only vary in color, size, or even fabric. For sites with such products, here are two methods you can use;
- Design a page that lists all variations of the same product: This means that you will have one unique page as opposed to several duplicate pages. Google recommends this method especially for products that are similar but only vary slightly in color, fabric, and fabric among other parameters.
- Create varying pages but make them unique: One of the most challenging methods of addressing duplicate pages is making every page unique. This option will entail creating various copies, imagery, and meta-data. While this method involves a lot of work, there is no guarantee that it will deliver better results than listing on the same page.
Designing more navigational options
In many cases, there are website owners who create multiple URLs unknowingly because their products fall in the same category. For example, a website can have multiple URLs displaying similar content, similar titles, same meta-descriptions, and similar title tags. The impact is that the ranking will be poorer because of the multiple URLs.
The solution in this case, is ensuring that you get one version in every topic link only to that page from different sections of navigation. This way, the Google’s job is made easier because the crawlers will know that only one page exists on a particular topic.
For all websites operating on Magento, it is very critical to audit their sites on the outlined issues. Well, note that these are just a few cases that are particular to Magento. There are other numerous cases of duplicate content on e-commerce websites that need to be addressed too. Do not let duplicate content ruin your long journey to the success on e-commerce; use the outlined measures to ensure that every crawler will only get one version of the product for higher ranking.