Unavoidable duplicate content...a way around this?

Hi There,

I have a client who holds a few events regularly, and they are usually the same events, just in different locations around the country, and for each event there is a page with all the event details. The problem is that each event page has more or less the same content, and he doesn’t have the time to change the content for each event.
Is there any way to reduce the negative impact this inevitably has on search ranking, due to the number of duplicate pages? I don’t see how the canonicalisation tag can help, as no single page can be the ‘original’ page, due to the newest event always trumping the last. Or maybe I’m misunderstanding/underestimating the power of the tag?

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Dan

First thought – does he need to keep the old pages once the event has passed?

Second thought – if he has one generic page with the basic content on, which then links to each individual event page as and when appropriate, you could send the generic page as the “canonical” one, and that way Google should direct people to that same one all the time.

He does like to keep all old events on the site, as some kind of reference, and going back 15 years, this has added up to a lot of pages, though only in the last year or two have the duplicate pages become an issue, due to these repeated events.
I do think your plan to have one central page with the main info on is a good one, and I guess I’ll have to put this to him…unless there is any other kind of wizardry anybody else can suggest to get round this?

Thanks,
Dan

In the html of all the old event webpages do an php “include” that pulls in the canonical tag from a common, external source.

Then when you create a new event webpage, you only have to update that single external source for all the old webpages to have a canonical tag pointing to the [correct] current event webpage.

Of course, when you add yet another new event webpage, you will have to edit the previous current event page so that it also has the php “include”.

By doing this, the website can be correctly canonical tagged with just two quick edits each time a new events webpage is created.

Why not set it up the other way around, so that there’s one ‘Season 2011’ site, with all the individual dates for the different events on that one page? Personally, if I noticed that all the text for the different event pages was the same, I would consider it very unprofessional.

I wasn’t aware that php includes could be used in html pages, or am I missing something here.
The one page concept sounds like the winner so far.

If it’s plain HTML pages, then you can probably do server-side includes in stead, if that’s the solution you end up with.