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I think I've narrowed my issues down to a duplicate content issue - can someone confirm?


rustyclockwork

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Hello, I've been scratching my head over the past couple of months about my site www.oldfoundry.com and it seems there's some duplicate content being created, but I don't think it had done that before, either that or Google now notices it.

 

Bing and Yahoo see it fine on the first page searching for toy restoration, but Google has it waaaay back now, when it used to be pegged at #1 or #2 on any given day.

 

I'm just not sure where or how the duplicate pages are being generated, and if someone has the time to confirm my suspicions, I sure would appreciate it. Then I can start hacking away at the issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jason

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It's unlikely google is punishing your site for duplicate content reasons unless you are deliberately trying to do that. They realize that many sites have pages that are similar enough to qualify for duplicate content and don't automatically penalize them when found. You should have code installed that creates a canonical meta tag (which you do) though since that will reduce any chance of duplicate content. But, odds are, you just don't have the page optimized for the keyword you are going after and google just adjusted their rankings based on that. For example, your main keyword for the home page is "Antique Toy Repair Services "but that is not found anywhere on the page itself.

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Do you have multiple page formats (e.g., print, mobile,...)? If you do, you should use robots.txt to tell search engines to index only one version. Are you possibly indexed under both www. and non-www. forms of your domain name? If so, choose one or the other and add a redirect to your .htaccess file to force that one.

 

Another possibility is that some other site has hijacked (stolen) your content, and you're the one being punished. Try a search for some unique phrases on your pages and see if you find any other sites "borrowing" your text.

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its entirely possible for you to have duplicate content, depending on how your site is set up and what URL modules you have installed. However, you're jumping to conclusions with this.. Google has been releasing the latest panda updates recently, so its possible you have been hit, depending on your previous activity, current content, indexing, and any link building schemes you have participated in in the past. To be honest you haven't really given enough information to go on...

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Hi everyone, I just got home, so I haven't had a chance to read all the posts...

 

I installed Oscommerce back in 2008, and since then, on any given day, I've been #1 or #2 for "antique toy restoration" or "vintage toy repair" or "toy repair" or "toy restoration".

 

The site dropped from those search terms around July I think.

 

Have not done any link building schemes, there are a handful of toy collector sites and antique specialty sites, who have linked my site though, mentioning toy restoration.

 

One of my friend's girlfriend, who does SEO for a living, scanned my site using a program called Screaming Frog, and she saw a BUNCH of duplicate content with this program last night.

 

The only thing I've done (before I realized I was hit) was change some code so that if I want to add an information page similar to a product page, if I enter in zero for the price, the new page (item) would not have a price shown at all, nor would it have "add to cart" displayed. If I was using Google Shopping, then I'm sure that wouldn't fly with them, but I'm not using Google Shopping.

 

Any example info page that is not indexing is below:

 

http://www.oldfoundry.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=35_42_51&products_id=144

 

If you type in these words: "dremel disc belt sander 1731 emco" it will show up as #1 on Bing, but nowhere on Google. And I've even done the recent Google Authorship stuff to that page... It doesn't make any sense to me.

 

I appreciate any thoughts...

 

Thank you again,

 

Jason

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Do you have multiple page formats (e.g., print, mobile,...)? If you do, you should use robots.txt to tell search engines to index only one version. Are you possibly indexed under both www. and non-www. forms of your domain name? If so, choose one or the other and add a redirect to your .htaccess file to force that one.

 

Another possibility is that some other site has hijacked (stolen) your content, and you're the one being punished. Try a search for some unique phrases on your pages and see if you find any other sites "borrowing" your text.

 

Hi Mr. Phil,

 

Yes Sir, I have the .htaccess file setup correctly, that was one of the first things I did after talking to the Google Webmaster help forum users... They suggested exactly what you mentioned. Thank you. I don't think there are any sites pretending to me mine (wouldn't Google check the date of the files? and realize that the older file would probably be the original content one? I have no idea how that works)

 

Sincerely,

 

Jason

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It's unlikely google is punishing your site for duplicate content reasons unless you are deliberately trying to do that. They realize that many sites have pages that are similar enough to qualify for duplicate content and don't automatically penalize them when found. You should have code installed that creates a canonical meta tag (which you do) though since that will reduce any chance of duplicate content. But, odds are, you just don't have the page optimized for the keyword you are going after and google just adjusted their rankings based on that. For example, your main keyword for the home page is "Antique Toy Repair Services "but that is not found anywhere on the page itself.

 

Hi Jack, first of all, I want to thank you for your contributions... I feel that quite a bit of your efforts are the reason why my site has done so well in the past... so thank you.

 

Perhaps I should re-work my front page, and my subsequent restoration and repair pages with much more content text. It's just weird that the site dropped so fast, perhaps it was the latest Google update. But then again, the SEO lady who I talked to last night had checked my site with a program called Screaming Frog, and it did indeed find a bunch of duplicate content.

 

I'm almost debating about nuking my site, and starting over with the latest Oscommerce release (with some of your contributions added) but then again, Bing and Yahoo have my site at around #2 right now for "toy restoration" or "antique toy repair" (at least from my demography it is). So maybe it's just a fix that I need, or according to the new Google, just more content.

 

I really appreciate your time,

 

Sincerely,

 

Jason

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One of my friend's girlfriend, who does SEO for a living, scanned my site using a program called Screaming Frog, and she saw a BUNCH of duplicate content with this program last night.

Jason

anybody who works in SEO and uses tools such as screaming frog is perhaps not the best person to ask. First off, your site has so many issues, but your most obvious one relating to 'antique toy restoration' is that your homepage is your primary landing page for that term and is accessible by both /catalog/ and also catalog/index.php , without a canonical. Either set up a redirect from index.php to root, or use a canonical. Fix this first.

 

Should you scrap your site and start again? Possibly.. if you value your sales.. if someone approached me with this site and said they had search issues, i'd be shaking my head for days and watching the costs go up. Not only do you have search issues, you have navigation, usability, and design issues. I'm guessing this site doesn't convert very well for you. And if you decided to redo it, should you use oscommerce again? No, absolutely not. Its outdated, lacking in features, has inherent search engine issues which take a LOT of time to fix properly, and its a complete mess. Look at prestashop or cubecart for a good small business e-commerce platform.

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Hi Adibranch,

 

Thank you for the suggestion about the canonical link, I didn't realize root catalog and catalog/index.php would be such an issue.

 

I have a lot of things to consider, but like I said before... this site was number 1 or 2 on any given day, for years, anywhere in the world for toy restoration, and it seems to me that the only thing that changed was google's algoritms... So I need to get to work big time again on this issue as soon as possible, and I value your input as well as everyone else's here.

 

I'll have to take a look at those carts that you mentioned, I am happy with oscommerce though, but am open to any suggestions and will research them. I'm really needing more of an information site with a web shop 2nd to that. I think I'm trying to make oscommerce an info site, since it did so well with my product placement, but I'm also running an old version of it.

 

Thank you again,

 

Jason

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I just fed the page that isn't cataloging (http://www.oldfoundry.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=35_42_51&products_id=144) to validator.w3.org, and it puked all over the place. Some of the reported errors, such as missing alt= tags on images, and obsolete HTML attributes can probably be safely ignored for now. However, it shows seriously misnested tables, e.g.,

<tr>
 <td class="main">
   <table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="2" align="right">
     <tr>
       <td align="center" class="smallText">
         <script language="javascript"><!--    ??? what is this supposed to do?
         document.write('');
         //--></script>
         <noscript>    ??? why in noscript?
           <a href="http://www.oldfoundry.com/catalog/images/dremel_disc_belt_sander_model_1731_small.gif" target="_blank"><img src="images/dremel_disc_belt_sander_model_1731_small.gif" border="0" alt="Dremel Disc Belt Sander Model 1731 "Moto-Sander"" title=" Dremel Disc Belt Sander Model 1731 "Moto-Sander" " width="125" height="71" hspace="5" vspace="5"><br>Click to enlarge</a>
         </noscript>
     <TR>   ??? we're still in a table cell and row!
       <td align="center" class="main"></td>
       <td width="0"><img src="images/pixel_trans.gif" border="0" alt="" width="0" height="0"></td>
       </td>    ??? intended to close the smallText table cell?
     </tr>

 

Maybe Google threw up its hands when it saw that. Do you have custom coding in here, or add-ons? I hope this isn't the output of vanilla osC! Something has really messed up the code output. I'm having a hard time correlating what shows on the browser with the code on the page.

 

Maybe it would be time to toss the old store and start with a clean osC 2.3.3. However, if this wacky HTML is actually in the product description and not generated by osC and add-ons, then a lot of manual cleanup will be needed. For example, the above code appears to be just below the center column heading and is invisible in a browser.

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Hi MrPhil,

 

Thank you for looking at this... I've been seriously debating about switching over to Prestashop, it has a lot of features and a CMS feature that sounds really nice. Prestashop was suggested by a member on this site.

 

I'm sure the description code for that page is all wonky and custom. But Bing and Yahoo will have that page among the top 3 hits, it seems Google is my only headache now.

 

If Prestashop has a feature that allows a directory for information pages to be nested among the regular catalog pages, with individual information listed like products (only showing no prices or add to cart buttons) I'm pretty much sold on the idea of that cart system. It seems like a better overall shopping cart.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jason

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