Canona What?! Canonicalisation May Be Diluting Your Websites Ability to Rank
Canonicalisation is a word that makes SEOs sound very knowledgeable however many website owners can be confused by what it means. It has caused much amusement in the online marketing world when a slip of the tongue can often come out with colonical however that has a very different meaning!
So what is canonicalisation? This is the no frills guide as to what it all means.
There are some instances where a website can end up with multiple URLs that load the same page with the same content. The usual combinations which can be found are:
In this list we can see www. versions of pages and non www. versions and extensions on the end of the URL’s depending on how the website was built.
The search engines arrive at your website and can see all these different versions. They are left with no choice but to choose one version for the search engine. The search engine may however choose the version of the URL which has the least amount of links pointing to it. When links point to a page it helps to pass authority through and helps pages to rank in Google because links are essentially a ‘vote’ that the page is of good quality and therefore deserves to be ranked higher. So if the search bot chooses the less powerful one then you will get less visibility in the search engine for that page. So how do we fix this issue?
The Good Old 301 Redirect
301’s are an SEO’s best friend. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. So for instance http://example.com may be redirected to http://www.example.com. This means that you have chosen the www version to rank and your users can not access the non www. version. Any links that have been giving authority to the non www. version will pass all their authority through to the www. version. Sometimes we see people using a 302 redirect by mistake, this is a non permanent redirect which does not pass authority through so be sure to use the correct one!
This can be used instead of a 301 redirect. This is a tag you can put in the HTML header that the particular URL is a ‘copy’ of the original page. Within the tag you include the actual page which is the original page or the ‘canonical URL’. All the link authority will be passed to the URL cited in the canonical tag.
As an example let’s say you have these two URLs:
You have decided you want the original version of the URL to be the one that ranks. Within the HTML header of http://www.example.com/thisisacopy.html you would put the canonical tag:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/original.html” />
This lets Google know that you want the original version of the URL to be the one to rank and is the most important.
So waste no time and check out your website to see if you can make any quick ranking wins today!