Duplicate content in Magento: Causes and Solutions

Updated on: 24 June 2017

One of the top open e-commerce platforms that have attracted a lot of users is Magento. However, it comes with one significant problem; duplicate pages. It is important to note that unlike many people commonly misconstrue, Google might penalize you for having duplicate pages. Despite this, duplicate content will affect the crawlers, indexing, and the site’s ranking.

Dangers of duplicate content

  • Sites with duplicate content perform poorly on search engine result pages
  • Duplicate pages confuse search engine bots that ultimately omit them from indexing

Major causes and solutions of duplicate content in Magento

Using multiple product URLs

In Magento, all products are arranged depending on categories. This means that if a product is included in specific categories, visitors can access it using different URLs. Here is an example.

  • example.com/category1/product-x
  • example.com/category2/product-x
  • example.com/category3/product-x

The issue here is that all the three URLs have the same content. The main question is; which page does Google bot display? If all the pages are crawled, a lot of confusion will ensue on which one to index.

The best solution for this is utilizing high-quality URLs. In Magento, navigate to the SEO option on the system and check NO on the Use Categories Paths. Once you do this, there will be no need to add new URLs depending on product categories. However, some of the products that might have already gotten their URLs using the categories system will require 301 redirects.

Query strings

Like in most e-commerce sites, Magento also uses the faceted navigation to help clients narrow down to preferred items. The query strings added at the end of the product URL could also result to duplicate content. Here is an example:

  • www.example.com/category X
  • www.example.com/category X?search=bikes&color=green

These two pages are the same. If search engine bots crawled these two pages, the multiple versions would cause the original page to be subdued. This problem can only be addressed with rel=canonicals on the page header.

Rel canonicals are unique tags for communicating to search engines about the preferred pages when there are various versions of the same content. While adding canonical tags is a great idea, it will be monumental for e-commerce firms with a lot of products. When using Magento, consider navigate to the SEO on the system and enable Use Canonical Lint Meta Tags for Categories, and products.

Product variations

Many products in e-commerce sites only vary slightly. Think of a company selling pillows that are designed with the same materials, dimensions, and designs. However, they are of different colors ranging from yellow to white. Now, the pages for such products will contain same content with the difference being colors. To address such duplicate pages, here is what to do.

Create a specific page that lists all product variations

This page means that only one page will be unique and as opposed to having many duplicate pages. This is the most recommended method for products with slight variations.

Design various pages but make them unique

This method is very tasking because you need to create unique content of similar products. Though this method delivers better results, it is very difficult to implement especially when the products only have slight variations.