Optimizing for Product Colors: Long Tail Gold or Duplicate Content?
Colors are search modifiers that can bring a lot of long-tail traffic. When someone searches for a particular product and color, it often indicates someone is close to a purchase, or at least further along the sale-trail than one who goes broad.
But you can't create a separate product page and URL for each color because that's duplicate content, and duplicate content is the worst of sins, right? That's what I thought until I started testing it - and it turned everything my momma ever told me about duplicate content on its head.
(If your momma never had "the talk" with you - you know, *content reproduction,* we recently did a duplicate content post that included a PG13 explanation. I made sure this post was completely different so nobody mistakes it for duplicate content).
Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus...And You Can Optimize Product Pages for Color
Here's an example:
Jessica Bennett Shoes sells its product through its own e-store and various retailers like Amazon, Zappos and ShoeBuy. One of its styles is called “Harli.” It's made from burlap and comes in navy, beige and brown.
Shoebuy.com has 3 indexed product pages for Harli – one for each color.
Each page has an identical meta description, and according to Webconfs' Similar Page Checker, these pages are 100% identical.
But Shoebuy not only owns top spot for each color, Google's also throwing in some indented result love. When you search for “jessica bennett harli navy” (at time of writing and from my data center):
Top ranking... and for "jessica bennett harli brown":
"jessica bennet harli beige":
The only differentiators between the 3 color pages are the URLs (just numbers, no keywords) and the title tag. I've scoped out other sites that use different pages for different colors and they all seem to rank fine when color is included in the search query. The technique seems to be create color-specific pages in addition to one main product page (hence, indented results). Since all pages are indexed, the color pages are selected to appear when someone searches for the color, with the non-color, main product page potentially appearing as an indented, second result.
This leads me to believe that as long as your color pages are getting indexed, you don't need to worry about duplicate content smackdown.