Regional Sites and effect of canonical tags

New Member
9 0 0

Hi there,

We operate three Shopify sites that sell the same products but are targeted at different geographic regions. So each site has a regional domain suffix (e.g. .com, .com.au. .co.nz). Each site has some uniqueness in terms of basic meta data, and some of the copy on the main pages. However the products are all the same, with the same names and the same photos/descriptions.

What I am concerned about is, given Shopify’s use of canonical tags, whether this has an impact across the three sites, and whether Google will see the canonical tags for the products as conflicting with each other i.e. which is the authoritative source for this content.

So, for a given product, one site will have a canonical of:

www.mysite.com/products/widgets

and another will have:

www.mysite.co.nz/products/widgets

But both those widgets pages will look fairly similar to Google - in which case aren’t the canonicals in conflict with each other? Or is this only an issue if Google first decides the product pages on the different sites are duplicate content? In which case that is probably an issue that I need to somehow verify and then resolve. 

I hope I am explaining this clearly enough!  Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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Shopify Expert
246 0 38

If you have content that targets different regions,then I would look into the use of hreflang. It is a formal way to say that two pages are language/regional variants of each other.

I would not worry about the way the canonicals are done. They are a suggestion to Google and its fare to have duplication over websites targetting different audiences. 

Technical SEO Consultant - Specialising in setting up Structured Data for Rich Snippets, Google Analytics for advanced reports and the Google Search Console for efficient crawling.
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Shopify Partner
100 0 9

Yes, hreflang tags are the way to go here. Here is another post that might be helpful in regards to the implementation: https://ecommerce.shopify.com/c/shopify-discussion/t/hreflang-tags-374074

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New Member
9 0 0

Thanks so much Tony/Johannes for the replies. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.

I have put hreflang tags in place already across the 3 sites when I set them up.  My issue (or perceived issue) is really more down to:

  • the way Shopify relies on canonical tags to mask it's URL structure
  • how Search Engines interpret these canonicals
  • whether my approach may be confusing/conflicting that interpretation

Perhaps I am being too vague. I have tried searching here and elsewhere online, but it is hard to find answers, especially as Shopify's reliance on the use of canonicals is not an approach that is widely adopted elsewhere (from what I understand).

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Shopify Expert
246 0 38

I beleive the hreflang guide includes how to use canonical with it, and I don't think anything Shopify does would conflict. Each language/region variant should canonicalise to itself. The hreflangs reference the others.

Google tries to merge duplicate content anyhow. I call it soft canonicalisation. If shopify did not do their canonicalisation, Google will most probably be doing it anyhow, and may do it to different URLs than expected.

 

 

 

Technical SEO Consultant - Specialising in setting up Structured Data for Rich Snippets, Google Analytics for advanced reports and the Google Search Console for efficient crawling.
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