It is pretty common for ecommerce sites to have identical products, or near identical products, listed on their websites. Sometimes there is a color variation, sometimes a minor size difference, or merely a difference in the model number. For those sites that choose to leave these identical or near-identical products on individual pages, how does Google handle ranking those pages from the same site in the search results.
The question came up about how Google ranks and indexes these types of pages in the last Google Webmaster Office Hours with John Mueller.
So we generally try to index both of these product pages and then when it comes to serving, so when someone is searching for something we’ll try to pick one of these to show if we can recognize that they’re searching for something within that duplicated section. So that’s something that usually works out fairly well.
We have a lot of practice with this kind of duplicate product scenario… you’re not the first one to kind of run into that.
This is pretty common. Someone might be searching for a specific color or a specific model number, so it makes for the best user experience for Google to serve that specific page, rather than serving a similar page even if it is a more popular page. This is especially true when one specific variation of a product is harder to find or is more popular than others.
And this is good news for those worrying about duplicate content issues. Even though there isn’t a duplicate content penalty, some SEOs still worry that any duplicated content on a site is a bad thing or could lead to overall loss of rankings on a site.
For pages that need to have individual pages, but the site owner only wants to have a main one indexed, earlier this year Mueller suggested using canonicals for this kind of duplicate product scenario.
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