Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Edvinas Pozniakas on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 25, 2018).

Canonical URL for duplicated pages

Website has 2 pages with the same content. One of them is generating 500 organic traffic per month, other is generating 200 organic traffic per month. Pages have same title, same headings, same content, just different category. Should I use canonical tag on one of them (make page with more traffic primary) or should I leave everything as it is and be happy with my 700 traffic from these pages?

P.S. let`s forget that we can create unique content for both pages. I wanna know answer to this specific situation.

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Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Neil Cheesman: Re "Pages has same title, same headings, same content, just different category. " Have you looked at GSC to see what the search terms are that are resulting in the traffic?
  • Alan Bleiweiss: In this specific situation, this is a pure internal duplicate content conflict. Google only considers canonical URLs as hints, not directives, and you do NOT send any of the existing SEO value from that page to the page the canonical link targets when you use a canonical. So if you want to get maximum value for human needs and SEO: Choose which one you want to keep live. Redirect the other to that, with a 301 redirect on the server. Ensure internal links within the site only point to the live URL. Ensure your sitemap XML file only links to the live URL. There is no reason under the sun to keep both pages live, relying on a canonical URL for Google.
  • Neil Cheesman: I am curious to know/understand why two different search terms are providing traffic (not a large volume but maybe quality over quantity) would removing/redirecting one of these not (likely) remove the traffic source... what is the downside of leaving `as-is` it suits the users...
  • Alan Bleiweiss: I will also add this - you say it`s in two categories. Pick which of the two is the more important category association for that content, and that`s the one I would keep live.
  • Alan Bleiweiss: You can always link to the consolidated URL from the other category, just don`t have the page itself reside in duplicate, in entirety, in two unique paths.
  • Jeff Ferguson: If a train left Chicago Going 200 miles per hour...
  • Richard Hearne: Before you request or take any advice on this you probably want to provide more context: 1. how large is the site on which these pages are published? 2. by extension of (1) above, how large is the internal backlink profile which points at these 2 pages, and is the anchor text pointed at each of these pages differentiated by the category and target keyword for which each page ranks? The problem with some of the advice is that I don`t think it considers that the reason these page rank separately - despite having identical content - could be related to the anchor text which is pointed at them. If you canonicalise and change all anchor text to only one of the 2 target terms I`m going to hazard a guess that you`ll lose some of the traffic you have today. As with so much in SEO, deeper research of a problem can uncover related issues that may not be obvious. Good advice in one context can be exceptionally bad advice in another.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 25, 2018).

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