Help with fixing my SEO problems on a PHP site


SEO moz is telling me that I have a few issues on my site. The biggest one being duplicate content. They give me the URL to each page that has this problem. The solutions I have found have told me to place a 301 redirect or a canonical tag to these pages. However, seeing as my site is php and has dynamic pages, this solution will not work. Unless I am not understanding where these tags can go. If I try to go to a specific category page on my site I will be brought to one category page because each page is built from the server depending on the way you get to it.

I have contacted SEO moz many times and they have told me that they are not web experts and can not solve this issue. In fact, the person helping me in the forum from SEO moz is a history major! They only tell me the problems that their site finds when I do a web crawl. Very frustrating! So now I am trying to find any php help I can get with this issue.

Does anyone have a solution?


Well, this is really a “code” site. And, since you did not show any code…

But, I did find a large list of how to fix duplicate content online. There are thousands of sites that explain it.

I suggest using your buddy Google and use this as the search words: seo moz duplicate content

You should find a lot of info to help you out. Hope that helps. If not, please give us more info such as what
the error actually says. The error message should have error numbers or line indicators that are in error.
With more info, we might be able to help. Good luck…


I am attaching a screenshot of the page. Also, I will put some links of URL’s they are saying are duplicates of each other.

For example, my category pages are the biggest problem with this type of content. But my php has but one category page that has variables that build that certain category page depending on how you get to it. So, it’s not like I can go to a particular category page to put in these tags.

These are duplicates according to SEO moz. There are 26 more of them. This is an issue I have been researching for some time now but no one seems to have a good answer when it comes to php.

I will provide more information, but I am not sure what you need to help. Please, let me know and I will send it.

Thank you

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.22.42 PM.png


The two links you attached doesn’t seem to be duplicate…

On the SEO Moz report can you give us the links of one of the pages it says it’s duplicated and all the pages it says it’s duplicated with, by clicking the + button…

Then it will be easier for us to compare those pages to see why they are considered duplicate content.


Well, this is only an issue for search engines…

The first page that is in the search words for Google show this site in MOZ…

This page explains why you need to code your URL’s just a little different so that the search spiders
do not duplicate searching the same page a hundred times. This page at MOZ explains this. And,
explains how to work around it. Also, several of the other pages in that list explains it too.

Read up on some of these pages and ask any other questions if you can’t figure it out. Remember, you
just need to make changes so that the same page is not re-searched by the spiders… That page will
explain it some…


ErnieAlex I have read that page and I have read a lot of other pages as well. The first thing I did was use google and research. My problem is how to apply these solutions to my type of site. I understand that is only an issue for search engines but it is important I fix this for many reasons. Perhaps, I am asking the wrong questions?

If I understand it correctly I need to use a 301 Redirect if, for example, I have a friendly URL and backup URL and I wanted the search engine to go to the friendly URL.

And a canonical would be more in a case where I wanted the same thing in two different places. An “Authoritative” URL and a “Primary” URL.

Topcoder I have a attached a screen shot plus a list of the full URLs as the screen shot doesn’t show the whole thing.

Where do I even place a tag as a solution when I only have on page in my coding that generates the 14 that are duplicate content?

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 7.47.57 AM.png



Well, I may be unclear of your reason for fixing this but, if you read all of the pages in the link I posted,
it explains how the search engines read and value links. If you have “duplicate content” which just
means two or more links that have the same base page, it throws an error. Unless you fix this by three
different ways. One would be to create a new page for each link. This is not good of course for any site.
Next, you can hide the links in some tricky programming code. Or, just tell the search engine that the
pages are identical so they are not scanned. This does drop one point on Google’s point scale as it is
considered a redirect which they do not like for some reason.

Anyways, here is the paragraph from that post that explains how to add the “REL” option to the links
to indicate they are duplicates and you should not be thrown an error. Hope this helps you… Good luck…

Another option for dealing with duplicate content is to utilize the rel=canonical tag. The rel=canonical tag passes the same amount of link juice (ranking power) as a 301 redirect, and often takes much less development time to implement.

The tag is part of the HTML head of a web page. This meta tag isn’t new, but like nofollow, simply uses a new rel parameter. For example:

This tag tells Bing and Google that the given page should be treated as though it were a copy of the URL and that all of the links and content metrics the engines apply should actually be credited toward the provided URL.

NOTES: Since this is inside the tags it does not show up as a link on the page. It does show
up if someone views the source of the page. Also, this can cause small issues if you have links inside the
page that you do want to be included inside of the search engine’s spider list. So, you have to think out
how the page will be called.


Take my category page. It is one page of coding with a lot of variables that pull the information for what ever category page you go to. Categories for cars, boats, companies, ect. All generated by that one page. So, if I try to fix this duplicate content issue with the categories am I supposed to put this tag in the header and include every URL that is a duplicate?


Those attached screenshots are not working for me :frowning:

The first attachment you did works fine.


I’m sorry!
Does this one work?

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 7.55.27 AM.png


Hmmmm, this is frustrating! Yes, from what I read, it appears that to make it 100% correct
for the search engines to ignore the links, you have to create an entry in the header for each
and every one.

At least, that is how I understand. The search engine will not process the links you put into the
header section.

I would try to manually code a couple links for testing and then re-run the SEO on it and see if you
have two less errors. If so, then you would have to write a routine to create the links from your data.

You would think in this day and age, there would be just one line you could put in there for all of your
links. I was reading on this issue at this site:
It explains a lot. I don’t understand why a search engine would not understand when a link is using
arguments sent to it since it is not a new page, but, the same page. Well, not sure if this helps…


Another thought on this process…

I found that using Google tools, you can have them ignore GET parameters. You have to give Google info
about the site and then use the tools to alter the way they “crawl” over your site. Two part of this is the
sitemap which would steer Google’s search of your site and the GET parms. Not sure if this will help and
of course it will not do anything in Bing or AOL or Yahoo’s search engines.


After looking at your pages…

Here are my suggestion…

  1. Use Canonical Links - It’s easy to implement
  2. Use SEO Friendly URLS (Because that makes the canonical Links) easier to implement
  3. Re-design your website - It’s not google friendly.

What do I mean by #3, well your product don’t have much text on them, so when google does a compare between pages you’re going to match highly. Use this link

Plug in 2 urls

1,083 words total, 97% matched

Do you see what happens, 97% in Google eyes is not a unique content. A lot of stores have this problem.

It’s because your

  1. Product and category pages don’t have enough unique text (You can add longer descriptions describing each product (It’s work, but hey that’s what you have to do to succeed)

  2. You have the same Top Nav, Left Nav, Footer on every page (This hurts you, because it raises that percentage of duplicate content on each page) - So a site redesign should be in the cards. You might think to yourself, it’s unfair you’re penalized for keeping a uniformed design. But google is just a algorithm and it has no clue what is your top nav, left nav, footer.

  3. You can look into cloaking, It’s effective, but Google does frown upon it. Use that technique at your own risk. It will get around the whole top nav, left nav, footer issue.


Thank you very much for the help Topcoder and ErnieAlex.

I obviously don’t understand just how the coding for my site works. When I talk to the web designer for my company, he doesn’t live in our city, this is the answer I get:

“I am not a SEO expert. I need SEO Moz to tell what specifically needs to be changed. I can make the changes no problem. The MA site is not a typical static website. And SEO Moz needs to know that. You have a handful of pages that are dynamic depending on what the users chooses to see and do.”

SEO is no help and my web guy built the site years ago. And when I give the answers I am getting (like the canonical and the redirects, and direct them towards the link you have sent me and I have read) I am getting back that the site doesn’t work that way. And there is one category page in all of the coding that sets up all of category pages. Is it possible that I just need to have the coding redone to be set up differently?

I will definitely try changing up the descriptions… However, the site is basically one big index… But this is just how Google sees those pages I guess.

The descriptions and all are entered in on our admin through ECommerce templates, which is where I will be making some of the redesign changes… Is there a chance that I can add some kind of coding on the product through there?


I would just switch out your e-commence system.

Go use Magento or something with a template that’s doesn’t display that much unique content…

Provident Metals uses this… lets do some compares

A Category Page

2,299 words total, 67% matched (If they removed the footer it will be in the 40%) but 33% unique in googles eyes is passing.

A product Page

3,315 words total, 62% matched

See how all the different information they use to describe the item influences the match ratio.

Switch over, be selective on the template to not have large repeating information.

Look at other successful e-commence sites - Learn from them - Copy them.

Also - if you don’t have a decent budget or the expertise to do things yourself, you are going to have a much longer journey.


Interesting. So I guess my next question is: Is this duplicate content really hurting me? Is spending the time and/or money worth the results I will get in traffic flow to my webpage?

Because by looking at the comparison you showed it looks like this is something a lot of sites (or all) have issues with. I mean the one you showed was only 67% compared to my 98% but 67% still seems like a lot.

I just want to say also that this is one of the most helpful forums I have come across and you guys answer quickly with great information. Thank you a lot for that.

Because by looking at the comparison you showed it looks like this is something a lot of sites (or all) have issues with. I mean the one you showed was only 67% compared to my 98% but 67% still seems like a lot.

It seems like a lot, but it makes all the difference in the world, I don’t know what the magic # is. But I think Google doesn’t flag it as duplicate content if it’s 12% or more unique.

I cloaked before on some of my sites and hide footers and such before and Google indexed the pages. After I learned from my mistakes, I now take that into accounts when designing new sites.

So I guess my next question is: Is this duplicate content really hurting me? Is spending the time and/or money worth the results I will get in traffic flow to my webpage?

That’s for you to determine, results don’t happen overnight… I personally got out of the online retail business, prices are to cut throat to make any profit, unless you’re selling unique products.


I can understand moving from online retail. However, our products are popular enough and unique enough to make plenty of profit. Which is really why I want to get this fixed in hopes that it will bring even more traffic and profit. And just so it can run as efficiently as possible, of course.

Okay, the coding for our Category pages is below. Just because I think it will help. This is the one and ONLY Category.php page we have that loads every single category page our site has. What exactly would I need to place in the header of this page to help? I am asking this, of course, hoping you might know or be able to give me an idea of the information I need to solve this. All the information you have provided is very helpful but when it comes down to applying it to my site I still don’t see how it would work.

<?php session_cache_limiter('none'); session_start(); ini_set('url_rewriter.tags', ''); include "vsadmin/db_conn_open.php"; include "vsadmin/inc/languagefile.php"; include "vsadmin/includes.php"; include "vsadmin/inc/metainfo.php";?> <?php if($topsection != "") print $topsection . ", "; print $sectionname?> "> td{font-family:Tahoma;font-size:11px;color:#000000} a{color:#800000} .date{font-family:Tahoma;font-size:10px;color:#787878;font-weight:bold;padding-left:10px;padding-top:10px;} .cap{font-family:Tahoma;font-size:10px;color:#FFAA00;font-weight:bold;padding-left:10px;padding-top:2px;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} .style2 {color: #FF0000}
<td width="171" rowspan="2" valign="top">

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<?php include "vsadmin/inc/incfunctions.php"; ?> <?php $menustyle='verticalmenu3'; ?> <?php include "vsadmin/inc/incmenu.php"?> <?php include "includes/leftnavigation_dynamic.htm"; ?>
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include “vsadmin/inc/incminicart.php”;


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		<td valign="top"><img src="images/capnews.jpg"></td>


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include “includes/login.htm”;
include “includes/billmelater.htm”;


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<td width="729" height="19" valign="top"><img src="images/midtop_728.jpg" width="728" height="19"></td>
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      <td width="569" background="images/bgmid_728.gif" height="210" valign="top"><div align="left">
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include “vsadmin/inc/inccategories.php”;

<td colspan="2" background="images/tile3.jpg"><table width="900" height="100%" border="0" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
    <td colspan="2"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0">
          <td><img src="images/p01.jpg"></td>
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          <td width="437" height="66" align="left" background="images/footer.jpg" style="padding-left:25px;padding-top:5px;"><p style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 2px"> <font color="#FFFFFF">1015 W Garland Ave, Spokane</font><font color="#FFFFFF">, WA 99205&nbsp;&nbsp; 
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    <td width="100%" align="left" background="images/tile3.jpg"><img src="images/great222.jpg" width="421" height="123" border="0"></td>


What shopping cart program are you using?