Alternatives to rel="canonical"

Don't use rel="canonical" as a bandaid solution

There has been some recent discussion in the SEO community about whether Google and Bing have different rules for the use of the rel=”canonical” tag. Google has said it is fine to have self-referential canonical tags (ie. the rel=”canonical” tag specifies the same URL as the page you are on), whereas Bing indicates they’d prefer the canonical tag be left blank in that case.

The proper use of rel=”canonical” can be confusing at best, and can produce devastating results at worst. So what is an SEO to do?

First of all, realize that using rel=”canonical” isn’t necessary in many cases of duplicate content. The canonical tag is a great tool for extreme situations and enterprise-level sites, but on small to medium sized websites there are often other solutions.
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Solving Canonical Problems with WWW

One of the most common problems I see in websites is the same content being available at both the WWW and non-WWW versions of a domain. I’ve encountered this in nearly every website I’ve done an SEO audit for, and I see it every day when browsing the web. Despite it being so prevalent, it is indeed a problem.

Having the same content available on both the WWW and non-WWW versions of a domain (such as authoritylabs.com and www.authoritylabs.com) is called canonicalization. While you and I might realize they are in fact the same page, search engines mistake them to be unique pages.

Most of the time, search engines can figure out that they are the same page and only include the canonical URL in their index. SEObook explains the canonical URL as:

The canonical version of any URL is the single most authoritative version indexed by major search engines. Search engines typically use PageRank or a similar measure to determine which version of a URL is the canonical URL.

Regardless, canonicalization can result in indexing problems and duplicate content issues. Most importantly, canonicalization will split the link juice between each version as people link to and share both.

What you want to see is a redirection from the WWW to the non-WWW, or vice versa, so that if the wrong version is entered or linked to, the user is automatically taken to the canonical URL. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to set up.

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Canonical Tag is Useless

The canonical tag is simply a way to silence webmasters.Webmasters and Duplicate Content

Yesterday at SMX West it was announced that Google, Yahoo! and Live have agreed upon a method to help webmasters define original content within a site. The canonical tag is a meta tag used to tell search engines which page to list in SERPs when multiple listings of the same, or very similar content exist in their databases.

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Content Tags

Tags are all the rage these days.  We’re seeing them everywhere, but why?

Tags offer a few different benefits. Essentially, tags are a way to quickly visualize what a certain type of content is about. Tag clouds can convey a lot of information very legibly. Take a look, for example, at this tag cloud of Obama’s inauguration speech. Which words stand out to you?

obamatagcloud [Read more...]