Should I use the Rel-canonical tag on my eCommerce website?

Should I use the Rel-canonical tag on my eCommerce website?

Today’s question is from Scott Burridge from Blacklist Prints, and Scott asks,

“I have a question about eCommerce setup. We do a few personalised products and have some standard designs. Currently, we have one product and have a dropdown box with different design options. This is because I didn’t want a bunch of thin content product pages, or a bunch of duplicate content, because there’s only so many ways you can describe a chopping board. I see a lot of other websites with a single page for each designs. Is that a better option? Would you put a canonical link from all designs linking to one main board?”

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Well that’s a great question, and a question that lots of people who run eCommerce websites ask me.

Now the line that I generally use is that every fresh piece of content, or every new product, is another ticket in the SEO lottery.

So therefore, it makes sense to have as many pages as possible.

But the truth is, it’s only worth having those extra pages if they are quality content. So if the content on the page is rich, interesting, answers customer questions and has a unique title, meta description and unique body copy as well.

So in Scott’s situation, if the designs aren’t different enough to warrant a different description, it’s going to be pretty hard for him to create separate pages for each of these products.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term Rel=canonical, well it’s a special kind of tag that sits in the HTML head of each web page and it communicates with search bots to tell them the relationship of that page with other pages.
It lets the bot know which is the primary piece of content and which are duplicates and then the bot passes over the duplicates and only gives link credit to the main page.

So, what it kind of does is merge all the pages together. 

A photo posted by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on

It’s very useful when you have, say, a single product, but it comes in multiple colours or in multiple sizes and rather than use a dropdown as Scott has done, you’ve created separate pages for each of those different colours and sizes. In that instance, you would use the Rel=canonical tag to highlight which is the primary piece of content, so that the bots pass over all those alternate sizes and colour pages.

So to answer your question Scott, I would say that yes, the way that you’ve planned your site is right.

It’s better to have a single page with those different designs on, than lots of thin, duplicate pages.

But what I would say is to look at which of those designs is most popular and try to pull them out into a separate page.

Give that separate page its own unique focus keyword, use that phrase in the title, the meta, the body copy and on the images and in the alt tags of the images, and try and beef that page up with some really unique content.

Try and think about the different uses of chopping boards, different occasions.

I’m sure that you can maybe work up some unique content for each page. Perhaps consider adding a video to the page, or some customer reviews to really beef it up and make it even more unique.

ISo, I hope that answers your question Scott.

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