Mambo and Joomla! - duplicate content problem

Duplicate URLs for the same content is a serious issue with Mambo and Joomla! - perhaps addressed in latest Mambo, but not in Joomla!, where it seems the powers-that-be just don't care about this. I've made several posts about this issue to Mambo and Joomla! forums. Here, for instance, on 18 June 2005, added to a mamboserver thread on Different URLs for the same content, started in September 2004: Wow - months since original post, and this is not solved. Not even a real reply. Odd, really, as important for search engine success: should have one URL per page. - and, ideally, this should be a URL which you stick with. (Not, say, changing as upgrade software.) I used d51SEF for URLs with keywords with Mambo 4.5.0; saw duplicate URLs, and "solved" by auto-generating URL only once, then using this to cut and paste URL when I wanted to link to an item again. (Meant I couldn't use sitemap etc, as would otherwise spawn more duplicate URLs). Belatedly, upgraded to 4.5.2, Just tried 404SEF, had problems. But even Mambo "SEF" URLs doing same. For instance, I have menu with a section link and a category link leading to same article - but if go via section name, then category, get different URL to if go directly via category. Isn't it possible to solve this? Otherwise, seems that I still have to do that tiresome cut and paste for URLs - really, does not make upgrading 4.5.0 to 4.5.2 fun. (Never mind the fancy backend stuff.) Right, back to the hideous cutting and pasting, lest googlebot et al index a ton of my "URLs" for only few pages. - happily, someone posted re Xaneon Extensions Manager, which solved the problem; for Joomla!. this has been developed to become OpenSEF. - but, in answer to another poster, I soon added: First, after trying 404SEF, I found that quickly got duplicate URLs thanks to numbers on them. Posted in wh3 forum on 404SEF with this, and suggestion that maybe could stop the problem by removing the numbers, but reply not too helpful: "I am tired of hearing about multiple urls. ... This is a KNOWN issue that has nothing to do with 404SEF. Get over it or use another product." Anyway, I have tried Xaneon, and working well - not adding numbers, and with just one URL per item; I think as I suggested for 404SEF. (I'm not quite sure how it works; how it chooses which if potential links to an item it actually uses: I guess it's first link you make to an item) Not perfect, but a big help for me. (Bit worrisome, though, that doesn't seem too active lately. [developers upped and left for Drupal; happily, development later continued by others]) rjelks: I have rather few mambo pages in this site, so not too bad to use permanent redirects in htaccess: have record of old URL, then check what the new one is and use this in redirect. For thousands of pages - well, I dunno how you'd go with that. Against which, may be best for long-term. Perhaps better URLs are the future; and if can choose something that can be standard - such as use www dot site dot com/category alias/title alias.html [as I think I'm using; makes for nifty URL], can perhaps keep same URL even if switch the method used to generate it. Could even - shock! - create same URL using non-CMS techniques. Yes, SEO is important, if want visitors via search engines. Till now, hasn't seemed big interest of Mambo development team. Lest of interest, I've a real short article on Mambo and SEO on website, where I've also done piece about SEO in general (maybe ok for newcomers to this; perhaps good for a laugh for hotshots!). Comments welcome in forums. I think this move towards such ready spawning of duplicate URLs is a significant step backwards - more like SE Unfriendly URLs.

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kenmcd weighed in with post re conflict of interest, as core Mambo developer selling component that generates SEF URLs. (Since that developer - Saka - has moved to Joomla!, I've read of Mambo improving the URLs...)

I followed with this:

kenmcd - I'd not mentioned that, tho occurred to me; does seem to me that good URLs should be pivotal for an open source cms.
[A while ago, I remember someone pointing out that maybe not right to have Mambo "out of the box" demo that relied partly on commercial component, SEF Advance. This wasn't case last time I checked demo.]

Here's hoping that strong URLs become part of the core. Maybe, say, Xaneon with some improvements, if ok w Xaneon developer? Assuming he can be contacted - seems the poor chap all but vanished after lack of pizza.
(While for people who'd like links to a given item to behave differently, as now - so needing different ids - maybe have as option.
Or, stick to just one URL, for the power in simplicity.)

Editing in, lest of interest to people viewing this thread:
Just added to a wishlist post I made re one URL per item -
Item on W3C is headed [url=http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI]Cool URIs (URLs) don't change[/url].
Has some reasoning for this; also potential excuses - like "we just reorganized our website", "we had to move some files"...
With top-notch URLs built into Mambo, wouldn't be extra excuses like: "I run Mambo, and I just upgraded my Mambo version", "I run Mambo, and just switched to another technique for generating URLs"

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/11/01 09:35

Here's a post from Joomla forum, 15 September 2005 (in thread asking when SEO will be built into Mambo, and - later - Joomla core):

[i]Glad to see some discussion here; I made a few posts in a mamboserver forum about duplicate URLs for same content.

I'd like to see Mambo generate Cool, SEF links.
Cool links as per W3C - ie once you have a link to a page of content, you can keep it, even if and when upgrade software etc.
SEF - easy to read by search engines. I don't think this is real crucial - I have forum threads that do ok in google with "raw" cms type URLs; but can only help, esp if include a keyword or two.
Plus, also importantly I think, good SEF URLs are more human friendly - maybe better for people to click on, and for cutting and pasting (working better in emails, where long URLs that split onto two lines don't always link well).
And, can end in .html - which I read somewhere might put people looking to do bad things to php sites off the scent.

Tried 404SEF, but had problem others had (and author noticed) - kept slapping id numbers on end, so could wind up with a bunch of URLs pointing to a page. This is a Mambo issue, I think introduced after 4.5.0 - and making Mambo URLs less "friendly" than before.

I use beta 2 of Xaneon, and impressed by it; was real disappointed development stalled, think it's great that development is back on track - glad to see Ken's energy in helping get things moving; fingers crossed.

I don't have too many glitches w Xaneon - maybe as not enough hits to wallop the database; would like to see its abilities extend to URLs for components (such as forum, menalto Gallery [there's fix for Gallery 1.5 and Xaneon, but a bit complex to me]).

Like the name OpenSEF.
After some more development, maybe it can be included in Joomla! core - as an option. ("SEF" is option now; could have additional OpenSEF option, with proviso it might not work perfectly. [won't be quite the only such thing in Joomla! core after all; but then, this is open source and occasional hiccoughs to be expected.])
Pro users who require support could then opt for SEF Advance. Dunno if this may work.

Then, on to a few other things.
One being page titles (in head code) - way more important for search engine rankings I believe. Good progress so far; but also making things easier for extra components would be good. (Latest simpleboard generates titles for threads; but for Gallery I've so far only managed album titles - photo titles would be great [my php hacking efforts not up to this so far, plus have hopes re G2])
[/i]
- a couple of days later, I was back with:

[i]I've complained about built-in SEF, since upgrading from 4.5.0.

- as get the item IDs slapped on end, so can have multiple URLs for one item (mamboserver had whole thread based on this, tho took time to get going).
This is surely SEU - search engine unfriendly. Google dislikes duplicate URLs (should rank one page, and penalise others with different URLs); then, which URL should others link to?; get dilution of Pagerank (or however you might call this, for all search engines - the potential benefits of inbound links).
Key reason I abandoned SEF404 (for one page, saw five or more URLs spawned in about ten minutes), and chose Xaneon.

(Maybe itemid problem is a little different - but surely means the "friendly" in built-in SEF is misleading.)

Also, with the item ids especially, URLs surely aren't Cool - set to remain for long time.
Over time, this too is unfriendly (to search engines, also to humans - who might find themselves clicking on links that no longer work. Plus to site managers, who may find themselves putting in loads of redirects if, say, get whole new set of URLs after Joolma! upgrade [latter has happened w Mambo; hopefully now w J!])
[/i]
- soon afterwards:

[i]Further to complaints re built-in SEF, here's extract of a post on webmasterworld:

The biggest problem I encountered with mambo was with the original SEF & non-SEF dynamic urls. You could end up with a content page having 4 or 5 different urls, depending on how you get to that page. As you can imagine, the result is one huge "duplicate content" mess.

Mentions Xaneon can fix this, so too SEF Advance.

But, [b]should people have to pay or use a free third party component to fix a problem that Mambo (and now Joomla, till revised) creates?[/b]
[/i]

another post to Joomla! forum re this issue, August 2006:

[i]Hi Amy:

Thanks for the reply.

Hmm, discussion not being about multiple URLs for the same content seems to be from coders' viewpoint.

If you're concerned about actually building websites, this issue/discussion surely is about multiple URLs, and basic Joomla creating these, and so generating Search Engine Unfriendly URLs. (And, as I mentioned, this being a relatively recent problem; seems silly innovation to me.)

I'd rather have that extra query or two, in order to not have to be concerned about duplicate content penalties.

Pretty URLs not a major issue, though I think can help when emailing links to people.
Cool URLs as per: http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI - page dated 1998, yet URL should still be the same. [How many times might a Mambo/Joomla user's URLs have changed over the years, if kept to basic URL creation, and used all possible updates?]

Cool, SEF URLs should be among foundations of strong websites.
So, remains odd that they're left for some later time.
Users not even given a choice - would they prefer better URLs, or fewer queries?; and there isn't a note that the basic "SEF" URLs can actually be SEU - unless just have one menu link to each page, and otherwise use links to actual URLs, which is clumsy (I've had to do so before).

Glad you like DocMartin site. My site running Joomla! - with OpenSEF - is Hong Kong Outdoors.[/i]

After Joomla! "masterchief" Andrew Eddie posted in J thread asking when SEF will be integrated in the core, I made yet another post:

[i]I'd referred to guidelines in a post above; it was these points in particular:
[quote]Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.[/quote]
- Joomla has Search Engine Unfriendly URLs thanks to Itemids - can get new URL for same content as you create a fresh link to that content. Leads to same problem as guidelines mentions for session IDs:
[quote]bots may not be able to eliminate URLs that look different but actually point to the same page.[/quote]

A problem for some time - I'm among people who posted re this in Mambo forums (I'd also mentioned in 404SEF forum, after experiencing flurry of URLs created for just one page of content: a problem that clearly drove 404SEF guy nuts; happily, Xaneon and now OpenSEF to rescue), and since in Joomla forum; solved by OpenSEF, say, but without this Joomla doesn't really create "Search Engine Friendly URLs".

[quote]It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.
[/quote]- some URLs can be long. Tho, I have good results for some joomlaboard threads, which have clunky URLs.
Shorter URLs are more human friendly; work better when sending emails. Good if it can be simpler for component developers to help ensure simple URLs - something I'd like for Gallery 2, say. Hopefully the sef file you mention is sign of good things to come here.

Title tags get a mention.
I'd figured could have option of using h1 for item titles - but, would add to those requests for optional features...

Hope the templates inc SEO are indeed forthcoming.
(Some time ago, I emailed [then] peekmambo guy, suggesting template to enhance SEO might be good idea, but didn't get response.)

Fully agree that:

[quote]can only go so far by painting-by-numbers and join-the-dots
[/quote]another of the guidelines - among the most crucial - says:
[quote]Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
[/quote]Indeed, can't hold people's hands here. For myself, hope I never see the day when a cms alone can meet this guideline.

Yes, it does seem reasonably easy for coders to modify stuff.
Much of discussion in this thread, I think, is on what should be present before modifications needed. Varying views, but maybe a cms that has SEO basics, inc one URL per item - and a URL you can retain as upgrade software etc ("Cool URIs") - would be an ideal basic foundation.
I know of considerable improvements re SEO since I started using Mambo - page titles built in, say.
Not far to go, really, if sieve down major feature requests/ideas in this thread. Including, Death to Itemids [/i]

Post edited by: Martin, at: 2006/11/20 03:44

Had reply to the above from masterchief, inc:
[quote]We have refactored the menu manager a lot to use fully qualified url's. I'm not saying it's perfect, because Itemid is still our nemesis, but it is a lot better than 1.0.
...
thanks for looking at these things and challenging us on it. Iron sharpens iron as they say This is turning into a good discussion [/quote]
- crikey, that's not been kind of response typical of developers, who've downplayed the issue, or even (hackwar) said SEO doesn't matter at all.

I've just posted, inc:
[i]I'm glad Itemids are seen as an issue by big chief of core team, and there has been progress; has seemed some others in team don't care, and/or don't understand this is an issue. I've posted till I'm blue in the face about this; others have noted the problem too. Indeed, I think kenmcd has made one or two posts on this issue.
...
Short urls, with words, should be the target. And should be "Cool" - similar to permalink idea I believe.
I'm hoping absalom's code does neat job here, inc with some options for how you create URLs, as with OpenSEF
..
How many who had sites with earlier Mambo have seen URLs unchanged? How many have created lots of 301 redirects in robots.txt? I still have a collection, inc from a Mambo upgrade.)

As I use Google, tend to find main results have short urls, with keywords.
... [/i]

Post edited by: Martin, at: 2006/11/20 03:58

2 years down the road, Joomla has gotten SEF URL aliasing right.

If I'm not mistaken sh404sef is supporting this feature for a long time. In any case if you use it and have problems with duplicate urls u can always rewrite the way url looks for any component, since its very dynamic.

This tutorial here shows how to set up sh404 advanced mode:
http://www.joomlaworld.org/joomla-videos/sh404sef-setting-up-advanced-mo...

Hope it helps,
William