I'm doing SEO for a boat accessories store, and for instance they have marine AC systems, many of them, and while the part number, number of BTUs, voltage, and accessories change on some models, the description stays exactly the same across the board on many of them...people often search on Google by model number, and I worry that if I put rel = canonical, then the result for that specific model they're looking for won't come up, just the one that everything is being redirected to. (and people do this much more than entering a site nowadays and searching by product model, it's easier).
Excuse my ignorance on this stuff, I'm good with link building and content creation, but the behind-the-scenes aspects... not so much:
1) Can I "rel=canonical" only part of the page of the repeat models (the long description)? so people can still search by model number, and reach the model they are looking for?
2) Am I misunderstanding something here about rel=canonical
(Interesting thing, I rank very high for these pages with tons of repeat descriptions, number one in many places... but wonder if google attributes a sort of "across the site" penalty for the repeated content... but wouldn't ranking number 1 for these pages mean nothing's wrong?. Thanks)