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Treating Duplicate Content With Canonical Links

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by Kabir Bedi
July 02, 2009


Kabir Bedi

Kabir Bedi is a senior web consultant at LeXolution IT Services, a professioanal web development company that has a team of skilled Web developers India. The company offers a plethora of web services including web design and development services.

Kabir Bedi has written 82 articles for PromotionWorld.
View all articles by Kabir Bedi...

Duplicate content is a serious concern with website owners. It need not be then case when someone else steals your content and places it somewhere else on the web. In fact, you yourself may be unknowingly feeding duplicate content on your own website.

Often it happens that a certain page of your website, say the homepage itself has more than one URLs. For example, the home page of your website can be

www.website.com
website.com
www.website.com/
website.com/
ww.website.com/index.html
www.website.com/Home.aspx
website.com/Home.aspx

These are like 8 different variations of the same web page. This means that the web servers would return the same content for all these eight different URLs. This causes several problems in the search engines because instead of having all your backlinks go to one page, it now split between 8 different versions of the same. This distributes the credibility of the web page and as a result, the search engines have a difficult time indexing it.

Solving Content Duplicity Issues

Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, its is better to follow certain principles in order to make sure you don't face any duplicate content issues instead of battling it afterwards. There are lot of things you can do to fix problems at the very beginning. Here are some...

Have Standardized URLs

Standardized URLs mean that there is only one way to reach the web page. Make sure your content management system generates consistent URLs that are completely uniform. This way, you would not have to worry about having 8 different versions for the same page.

Link Consistently

Often webmasters link to more than one versions of their website URL. For example, they sometimes link to www.website.com while at other times they link to website.com. This only serves to confuse the search engines. Therefore, make sure you select one canonical URL and link consistently.

Use 301 Redirects

If you have more than one URLs for the same web page, you can use a permanent 301 redirect and make all the other URLs redirect to a single permanent URL.

Specify in Google Webmaster Tools

Use Google Webmaster Tools and specify a permanent URL there. It is a really easy setting and can make a whole lot of difference to your duplicate content issues.

Submit the preferred URL in your Sitemap

Google prefers the URLs that you specify in the sitemap of your website. If it sees another of the same URL elsewhere, preference goes to the URL that is specified on the sitemap.

Using Canonical Pages

Canonical pages are the preferred version of web pages that have same or similar content. For example a web page may have more than one URL. Or it may display certain products that repeated when sorted by different parameters. Google when faced with multiple pages having the same content, indexes only one page that is most relevant to the users' query.

You can also specify a canonical page to the search engines by adding a element with the attribute rel="canonical" to the section of the non-canonical version of the page. This informs the website owner about identical content and make suggestions to Google about which one to prioritize.

         


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