Canonical Linking - Are You Duplicating and Don't Even Know it?
Excuse me? What did you say? Cananawha? Canonical Linking has been around for a couple years when Matt Cutts first discussed it. But don't jump all over me just because I am bringing something up that's 2 years old. Just because it's been said before doesn't mean everyone knows about it. Ok, enough disclaimer there.
A canonical link is the main URL link address you want to use when you have other URLS that direct to the same page.
This can be as simple as:
Both go to the same place but if you have linked them offsite using both versions of the URL, Google could possibly see them as two identical a.k.a. duplicate sites.
This is also the case if you have a variety of ways to get to the same page.
They may technically go to the same page, but if there are two different URL's that take you to the same place you MUST tell Google which one to pay attention to.
To humans we all know it to be one site. We see the same content so we assume it is the same. But to search engines they can see each of these and a variety of other url combinations as different sites. By addressing this from the beginning with your web host, SEO provider or webmaster this will solve the problem from the get go. If you are working with an older site that may be having this issue it could be why you are not being found as easily on the search engines.
By addressing the canonical linking issue in the code you tell Google, "look, there are a number of ways and URL's that go to this page but it's all the same page and here it is http:....................."
To do this you need to add the tag for the URL you want in the section of the duplicate content page code. The above URL would look like this:
For more permanent or completely different URL's a 301 Redirect is more appropriate.
To not have this be a problem in the future be sure to use the same URL EXACTLY everytime you link to your site. If you add a / where last time you didn't, it may be seen as two different pages to the search engines.
* This may be a bit confusing but it is something to be aware of. The biggest "take away" from this blog I want you to get is when you link to your site, make sure you are using the SAME URL everytime and you can avoid this issue.
But when you have time, check through your website to make sure your links are all directed to the same page on the subject. Ask your webmaster if they use canonical linking and if your site is set up correctly. Much of Google now caches sites with recommended URL's. They follow where people go and typically have a good idea what pages are suppose to go together. But you never know.
You don't want to penalize yourself for something you didn't even know you were doing.