Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't bore the search engines with duplicates

Google use canonicalization to pick the best URL when there are several choices, for example the home page may present:

mysite.co.uk
www.mysite.co.uk
www.mysite.co.uk/index.aspx

Most people would consider these as the same URL, but technically they are different. Google will canonicalise a URL which means over time they will pick the one they think is the best.

You can make sure that Google picks the URL that you want them to pick, your preferred URL by using 301 redirects to tell the search engine the page has permanently moved (a 302 is a temporary move) you can also assist search engines by making sure all your onsite internal links point to the correct page.

If there are pages on your website that show identical content but different URLS due to tracking parameters, category navigation and comment parameters, then there is a way to tell the Search Engines which url you would rather them store. Within the code (behind the website) you can add a tag to specify your preferred version.

This standard can be adopted by all search engines crawling the site and URL properties such as page rank and related signals are transferred.

How this is displayed is outlined below:

link rel = " canonica l" href = " http://www.mysite.co.uk/products/Blue-Pig.aspx "
inside the section of the duplicate content URL/s:

http://www.mysite.co.uk/products/Blue-Pig.aspx?show=reviews

and Google will understand that the duplicates all refer to the canonical URL:
http://www.mysite.co.uk/products/Blue-Pig.aspx

(NB: You can also use a relative path to specify the canonical, also if you include a link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL)


The hypothetical work involved

1. You could change internal linking on logo (for example) to go to one address ie: http://www.mysite.co.uk
2. Add appropriate 301 redirects example: on the http://www.mysite.co.uk/index.aspx to the default URL http://www.mysite.co.uk
3. Update links to point to a single canonical page to ensure optimal canonicalization results


Speak to Rocktime if you need any further help with this.


Author:Sarah Griffiths

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