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SEO Problem: Multiple versions of the homepage

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Joined: 23 Nov 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:21 pm    Post subject: SEO Problem: Multiple versions of the homepage Reply with quote

This is a problem I've encountered more with .NET websites, but it can happen quite easily on other platforms. If I start a site audit on a site which I know is .NET, I will almost immediately go and check if this page exists:

The verdict? It usually does! This is a duplicate of the homepage that the search engines can usually find via navigation or XML sitemaps.

Other platforms can also generate URLs like this:

I won't get into the minor details of how these pages are generated because the solution is quite simple. Again, modern search engines can deal with this problem, but it is still best practice to remove the issue in the first place and make it clear.

How to solve:

Finding these pages can be a bit tricky as different platforms can generate different URL structures, so the solution can be a bit of a guessing game. Instead, do a crawl of your site, export the crawl into a CSV, filter by the META title column, and search for the homepage title. You'll easily be able to find duplicates of your homepage.

I always prefer to solve this problem by adding a 301 redirect to the duplicate version of the page which points to the correct version. You can also solve the issue by using the rel=canonical tag, but I stand by a 301 redirect in most cases.

Another solution is to conduct a site crawl using a tool like Screaming Frog to find internal links pointing to the duplicate page. You can then go in and edit the duplicate pages so they point directly to the correct URL, rather than having internal links going via a 301 and losing a bit of link equity.

Additional tip - you can usually decide if this is actually a problem by looking at the Google cache of each URL. If Google hasn't figured out the duplicate URLs are the same, you will often see different PageRank levels as well as different cache dates.

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