Canonical URL SEO And Duplicate Content Penalty

Canonical URL’s have been a much neglected aspect of in page SEO for quite some time now, but webmasters are now realizing that this small attribute can actually jeopardize their entire SEO campaign to ashes.Simply put, if you have a canonical URL error issue then your own blog eats up ,well….your own blog! To understand how we need to understand what canonicalization means and why webmasters require to canonicalize their URL’s

Having studied the optimal permalink structure and other aspects of seo we must not miss out on this one which one , according to me is the biggest issue you must not be ignorant about (apart from writing your FTP password on the walls of a supermarket!)

Lets learn about canonical urls and avoid being eaten up by our own blog.This article deals with the difference between the www.cozyvision.com and http://cozyvision.com and other issues that cause your content to be flagged as duplicate content by google and will result in your site being banned from google for being a mirror site, not to mention -of itself! And can also get termed as a copied content blog and get the plagiarism penalty!

What Are canonical urls?

You will find various descriptions on the net about what canonical urls are and frankly it’s a good source to get confused, so here is the simpler version just for you.Canonical url simply means the preferred urls which lead to your article . Simply put it is an attribute of the link tag just like we have a few other attributes for example the no-follow attribute.

Why will my page have more than one url if I have defined a specific permalink structure?

Duplicate URL tends to happen if you have not specified to the search engines which version of url you prefer.

For a search engine, the URLs www.cozyvision.com and http://cozyvision.com mean different webpages. So since technically there is more than one url that leads to the same text, they will tag it as plagiarized content. This will not only result in low rankings but there is a strong possibility that your site will be totally banned from the search engines.

Canonical URL From Print Files

If you have the /print/ subdirectory in your uploaded files URL then this can be a reason for multiple URLs

How Canonical URL’s Affect Your Blog

When there are more than one urls pointing to the same content each url is treated as an independent web page by the search engines and hence when the content is compared with each other it appears as mirrored site to the search engines.

Mirror sites are those which are set up just to scrape off content from other sites and paste it in their own site.

Search engines are very serious about copied content and if you dont solve the canonical url issue your entire site will mirror itself and that is what I meant by “your own blog will eat your own blog”. Hope I dont apear as a complete lunatic now, though I am…well!

How to solve the problem of Canonical URL’s?

There are many ways to solve URL canonicalization using server side scripting or from your cpanel from your hosting account and also a lot of plugins if you are using wordpress.I am listing all the methods below and that will put a fullstop to the caninical error debate!

I have listed below, the simplest methods so that you can get the url canonicalization sorted without burdening your server with an additional plugin.

1)Enabling Permanent Redirect From cpanel to Specify Preferred Canonical URL

Most cpanels today have this feature which lets you use a redirect function on your domain.

Step 1-

Login to cpanel and go to redirects.

Step 2-

You can either specify to redirect from www to http:// or vise versa, the appearance is pretty intuitive.

2)Using the rel =canonical attribute

To specify a canonical link to the page [ http://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article ], create an element as follows:

rel=”canonical” href=”http://www. cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article”
Copy this link into the head section of all non-canonical versions of the page, such as [http://www.cozyvision.com/product.php?item=article&sort=category]

If you publish content on both

[ http://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article ]
                        and
[https://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article ]

you can specify the canonical version of the page. Create the element:
link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article”
Add this link to the head section of [ https://www.cozyvision.category.php?item=article ](in case you are diverting to a subdomain.)

3)Htaccess file To Define Canonical URL

Replace domain with your domain name and .com with the top-level domain of your website. In this sample code, [http://cozyvision.com ] is being redirected to [ http://www.cozyvision.com]

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^cozyvision\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.cozyvision.com/$1 [R=301,L]
#Deny access to htaccess
Order Allow,Deny
Deny from all

If I want to redirect from www subdomain of mywebsite.com to the main domain without www (http://cozyvision.com), the .htaccess code will have to be customized as give below:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.cozyvision\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://cozyvision.com/$1 [R=301,L]
#Deny access to htaccess
Order Allow,Deny
Deny from all

4)If Your WordPress Is Hosted on windows server

It is a little complex to work with windows hosted scripts as they employ active server script(ASP) and not many use windows for hosting their site.still as a complete referral on redirect functions I will list the method, not sure how many will actually use it, if you do please let me know how it went and what version of software your server is running.

Step 1  Go to Notepad
Step 2  Paste the following code
If InStr(Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_NAME"),"www") = 0 Then
Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently"
Response.AddHeader "Location","http://www."
& Request.ServerVariables("HTTP_HOST")
& Request.ServerVariables("SCRIPT_NAME")
End if
Step 3  Save it as “filename.inc”

Note- you will need to call this function in all files and it must be executed before all the scripts. So you must include this line

CAUTION

If you have already made a few posts before you stumbled upon this article about canonical URL’s you might want to go to your google webmaster account and tell google that you have implemented a canonical on the urls. For all future posts, it will be set by default and you wont have to worry.This will ensure you build up your lost website traffic

Let me know what you feel about this post about canonical URL’s & what measures you have taken t revent your canonical URL’s from eating your blog alive and don’t forget to bookmark it for future reference of Canonical URL’s for all your friends with blogs.

Canonical URL’s have been a much neglected aspect of in page SEO for quite some time now, but webmasters are now realizing that this small attribute can actually jeopardize their entire SEO campaign to ashes.Simply put, if you have a canonical URL error issue then your own blog eats up ,well….your own blog! To understand how we need to understand what canonicalization means and why webmasters require to canonicalize their URL’s

Having studied the optimal permalink structure and other aspects of seo we must not miss out on this one which one , according to me is the biggest issue you must not be ignorant about (apart from writing your FTP password on the walls of a supermarket!)

Lets learn about canonical urls and avoid being eaten up by our own blog.This article deals with the difference between the www.cozyvision.com and http://cozyvision.com and other issues that cause your content to be flagged as duplicate content by google and will result in your site being banned from google for being a mirror site, not to mention -of itself! And can also get termed as a copied content blog and get the plagiarism penalty!

What Are canonical urls?

You will find various descriptions on the net about what canonical urls are and frankly it’s a good source to get confused, so here is the simpler version just for you.Canonical url simply means the preferred urls which lead to your article . Simply put it is an attribute of the link tag just like we have a few other attributes for example the no-follow attribute.

Why will my page have more than one url if I have defined a specific permalink structure?

Duplicate URL tends to happen if you have not specified to the search engines which version of url you prefer.

For a search engine, the URLs www.cozyvision.com and http://cozyvision.com mean different webpages. So since technically there is more than one url that leads to the same text, they will tag it as plagiarized content. This will not only result in low rankings but there is a strong possibility that your site will be totally banned from the search engines.

Canonical URL From Print Files

If you have the /print/ subdirectory in your uploaded files URL then this can be a reason for multiple URLs

How Canonical URL’s Affect Your Blog

When there are more than one urls pointing to the same content each url is treated as an independent web page by the search engines and hence when the content is compared with each other it appears as mirrored site to the search engines.

Mirror sites are those which are set up just to scrape off content from other sites and paste it in their own site.

Search engines are very serious about copied content and if you dont solve the canonical url issue your entire site will mirror itself and that is what I meant by “your own blog will eat your own blog”. Hope I dont apear as a complete lunatic now, though I am…well!

How to solve the problem of Canonical URL’s?

There are many ways to solve URL canonicalization using server side scripting or from your cpanel from your hosting account and also a lot of plugins if you are using wordpress.I am listing all the methods below and that will put a fullstop to the caninical error debate!

I have listed below, the simplest methods so that you can get the url canonicalization sorted without burdening your server with an additional plugin.

1)Enabling Permanent Redirect From cpanel to Specify Preferred Canonical URL

Most cpanels today have this feature which lets you use a redirect function on your domain.

Step 1-
Login to cpanel and go to redirects.

Step 2-
You can either specify to redirect from www to http:// or vise versa, the appearance is pretty intuitive.

2)Using the rel =canonical attribute

To specify a canonical link to the page [ http://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article ], create an element as follows:

rel=”canonical” href=”http://www. cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article”
Copy this link into the head section of all non-canonical versions of the page, such as [http://www.cozyvision.com/product.php?item=article&sort=category]

If you publish content on both

[ http://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article ]
                     and
[https://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article ]

you can specify the canonical version of the page. Create the element:
link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.cozyvision.com/page.php?item=article”
Add this link to the head section of [ https://www.cozyvision.category.php?item=article ](in case you are diverting to a subdomain.)

3)Htaccess file To Define Canonical URL

Replace domain with your domain name and .com with the top-level domain of your website. In this sample code, [http://cozyvision.com ] is being redirected to [ http://www.cozyvision.com]

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^cozyvision\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.cozyvision.com/$1 [R=301,L]
#Deny access to htaccess
Order Allow,Deny
Deny from all

If I want to redirect from www subdomain of mywebsite.com to the main domain without www (http://cozyvision.com), the .htaccess code will have to be customized as give below:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.cozyvision\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://cozyvision.com/$1 [R=301,L]
#Deny access to htaccess
Order Allow,Deny
Deny from all

4)If Your WordPress Is Hosted on windows server

It is a little complex to work with windows hosted scripts as they employ active server script(ASP) and not many use windows for hosting their site.still as a complete referral on redirect functions I will list the method, not sure how many will actually use it, if you do please let me know how it went and what version of software your server is running.

Step 1  Go to Notepad
Step 2  Paste the following code
If InStr(Request.ServerVariables("SERVER_NAME"),"www") = 0 Then
Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently"
Response.AddHeader "Location","http://www."
& Request.ServerVariables("HTTP_HOST")
& Request.ServerVariables("SCRIPT_NAME")
End if
Step 3  Save it as “filename.inc”

Note- you will need to call this function in all files and it must be executed before all the scripts. So you must include this line

CAUTION

If you have already made a few posts before you stumbled upon this article about canonical URL’s you might want to go to your google webmaster account and tell google that you have implemented a canonical on the urls. For all future posts, it will be set by default and you wont have to worry.This will ensure you build up your lost website traffic

Let me know what you feel about this post about canonical URL’s & what measures you have taken t revent your canonical URL’s from eating your blog alive and don’t forget to bookmark it for future reference of Canonical URL’s for all your friends with blogs.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 at 8:51 am and is filed under SEO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “Canonical URL SEO And Duplicate Content Penalty”

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