As your mobile solutions partner, Shopgate takes extra care so your mobile shop does not end up on search engine's "duplicate content" list. In this article, you will find out the technical measures Shopgate take to avoid duplicate content.
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. In other words, your mobile pages that sell products with the exact same titles, descriptions, etc. can be considered as simple copies, or "duplicate content", of your desktop pages.
Why is duplicate content bad for SEO?
- Search engines don't know which pages to show. Search engines such as Google try to index and show pages with distinct information. This means that if a shop has a "regular" and "mobile" version of each page, and the relationship of the two is not defined, it's likely that only one version will be listed in search results but the search engines don't know which one.
- Mobile visitors might not be able to find products via search. Since the content of a desktop shop is normally handled as "primary content", if the mobile pages have been labelled as "duplicate", products sold in the mobile shop may not show up in a search conducted by a potential customer.
- Search engine rankings might suffer. To make matters worse, if Google or other search engines believe that duplicate content is used to manipulate rankings, the index and ranking of the website may be adjusted. As a result, the ranking of the shop may suffer, or the shop might be removed completely from the index, therefore will no longer appear in search results.
- Lower rankings may mean less revenues. If Google or other search engines lowered a shop's rankings, potential customers will be less likely to find the shop. This could lead to less revenues for a business.
What measurements are taken in my Shopgate shop?
We at Shopgate understand how costly this issue could be for a business like yours. Therefore we are taking all necessary actions to proactively addressing the duplicate content issues for you.
Please find below a list of our measures to avoid duplicate content:
Relationship is defined between mobile & desktop pages
A simple solution to avoid duplicate content issues is to declare your desktop pages as parent pages and define a relationship for their mobile "duplicates". In this practice, we added a <link> element with a Meta-tag called the "rel" attribute to the <head> section of a few pages (i.e. homepage, category pages, product detail pages, etc.). This practice is supported by search engines operated in Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.
For example, you have the following "identical" pages, and would like to define the relationship between the two.
- Desktop page: http://myawesomeshop.com/item/running_shoes1234
- Mobile page: http://m.myawesomeshop.com/item/1234
The 2 steps we have taken in this practice are:
- Defining desktop page using rel="canonical". This is a link relationship that Google (and possibly other search engines) uses to define the preferred version of content. By placing this tag in your mobile website, the search engines will understand that your desktop page is the parent page, and the mobile page is a variant of and belong to the parent page.
In this example, the desktop page will be defined as the following in your mobile website's source code:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://myawesomeshop.com/item/running_shoes1234">
- Defining mobile page using rel="alternate". This tag is placed in each desktop page that has a corresponding mobile page in your Shopgate mobile shop (i.e. homepage, category pages, and product detail pages). With this tag, Google or other search engines will understand that the mobile pages are an alternative version of your desktop pages.
In this example, the mobile page will be defined as the following in your desktop website source code:
<link rel=”alternate” media=”only screen and (max-width: 640px)” href=”http://m.myawesomeshop.com/item/1234”/>
Note that, you will not see the "alternate" tag if your mobile shop or your Shopgate plugin is deactivated.
Shopgate makes sure that a <link> element with an appropriate tag has been individually entered for all applicable mobile and desktop pages when your Shopgate shop is activated. In this way, your mobile pages are much less likely to be marked as duplicate content.
Only existing mobile pages are redirected
Redirecting visitors in a good manner is recommended by Google and is effective in avoiding duplicate content issues.
If a mobile page does NOT exist for a desktop version, the visitor will remain on the desktop website. This is a good way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page.
To make sure this is the case for your shop, please go to the Shopgate plugin settings page in your shopping cart solution backend and disable the option "Always redirect for all pages". In the newer versions of the Shopgate plugin, this option does not exist anymore.
Desktop link is shown on corresponding mobile pages
To further indicate that your mobile shop is a mobile representation of your desktop shop, we display a link to the desktop page on the bottom of every applicable mobile page. Together with the relationship defined and described in Chapter 3.1, Google and other search engines will understand that your mobile shop is not duplicate content.
With the measurements mentioned in this article, we are effectively avoiding the duplicate content issues for your Shopgate mobile shop. If you still have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to contact your support personnel.