Primary Strategies for Handling Search Pages
Here I’ll identify the primary methods of dealing with these pages: • Disallow in robots.txt: Also known as the ‘sledgehammer’ approach, it might be a little more brute force than necessary. This method uses disallow statements to block all pages containing a certain phrase from being crawled and indexed. While effective in certain situations, the main issue in this case is you could be missing out on valuable traffic and revenue. • Allow all to be indexed: This method results in a much higher number of total pages indexed than necessary, meaning the index is bloated with undesired, poorly optimized pages that don’t convert well if at all. • Exclude via parameter handling in Google Webmaster Tools: This can be an effective way to handle dynamically generated pages, but it also has certain limitations. Accounting for all of the various permutations of URLs and parameters can be difficult and unwieldy, creating a nightmare to effectively manage. Even if a site has a clean URL structure, you’re potentially missing out on valuable traffic, which could be optimized for. • Research and Optimize: We’ve learned from ecommerce that some search result pages can generate a good amount of traffic and conversions, so this option calls for us to research high performing search results pages, then create static, well optimized pages that draw traffic and convert well. Unwanted search result pages should be blocked from the index using a smart combination of meta robots ‘noindex, follow’ tags, and depending on the situation, carefully crafted disallow statements in the robots.txt file. The last approach should result in well-optimized pages, which draw traffic in the SERPs, convert well and ultimately drive more revenue by providing users with the information they want. Hopefully this has been helpful in thinking about how to handle site search pages. For more insight into SEO and PPC for travel, keep an eye out for upcoming blog posts from Adam Reitelbach outlining essential SEO and PPC tips for travel. And if you’re attending the PhoCusWright conference in Scottsdale in November, be sure to come by and say hello.