Recently, in a Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller answered a query that would using the same content for product and category pages demote or affect any one or both the pages. He threw light on how Google handles duplication of content among product and category pages, the consequences of repeating snippets, and puts forward his opinion on how publishers should handle this.
Category pages consist product listings, which users can browse through and click on a specific product. They will be then redirected to the product page. The problem arises when these two contain the same content.
John Mueller explains how Google handles such a situation. He said that when duplication of content is present within two pages of the same website, Google tends to treat them as competitive pages.
He further explained, “when someone is searching for something just in that text snippet then all of these different pages are kind of competing against each other in the search results and will try to pick one of these pages to show and try to figure out which one is their most relevant”
It leads to the situation where “category pages see more traffic but that would kind of come at the cost of your product detail pages seeing less traffic.”
Which is Best for Users, Category or Product Page?
Publishers generally tend to use the same informational content across multiple pages as it makes browsing products within the same category easier. However, John Mueller advises to use unique descriptions for Google to differentiate between category and product pages.
When framing content for a type of product (category page), general type queries should be aimed for. /also, the category page should be well-organized and easy for users to browse through and compare products.
In case of product page, the content should be more specific and to the point. The main information must include every available color option, user ratings, model numbers, weight, size, shipping information and any other relevant information.
Possible to A/B Test Organic Listings?
John Mueller suggests A/B testing, where traffic is sent to categories while users are redirected to product pages. However, it is impractical and not advisable. This is because, to accomplish that, one would have to block Google from product pages in the first test and category pages in the second test.
It is risky to conduct A/B test by blocking Google, as it would not guarantee diverting the traffic to other section.
However, it can be tested using Pay Per Click advertising and gradually come to know user preference for specific keywords.
John Mueller advises, “usually you can kind of A/B test this as well, where you take some of your categories or some of the products and you kind of try this out, you let it run for a couple of months and you compare it to some categories where you have it set up differently and you see where users are reacting differently.”
An ideal approach to developing content is to be more general for the category page, and attract users searching for a specific type of product. On the other hand, for the product pages, one must use more specific content and target preferred keywords.