Duplicate Content Problems? Use rel=canonical Tags




Look familiar?

A ridiculous number of companies have split their page rank in half or even thirds by not properly managing redirects or canonical tags on their different domains. As a San Francisco SEO expert, it pains me to see such an unknown error keep people from getting tons more search traffic.

Key fact: Those are different domains in the eyes of Google. Also crucial to understand, a backlink to http://yourwebsite.com is not going to help PageRank for www.yourwebsite.com.

Plus, Google has always had a standing policy of encouraging webmasters to verify the exact web address of their site. When people run into problems with verification on Google Search Console, the #1 issue is them verifying the wrong version of their domain or a version that doesn’t exist – www.yourwebsite.com instead of https://yourwebsite.com etc. etc. When you do that, you’ll see after a few days zeo data being gathered in Search Console. That’s how you know you have the wrong version.

So what’s the solution?

You can go with the good ol’ 301 redirects, but it’s possible that you’re generating duplicates unknowingly. When that happens, you get a lot of URLs out there that you’re not aware of needing a redirect.

Also, 301 redirects have a history of drastically dropping people’s search traffic for 4-6 weeks before it rebounds. It used to be rumored that a small amount of PageRank was lost in the redirect. Google recently came out in 2016 and said no longer is this the case, and that 301’s wont result in any lost traffic.

Well, as an experienced SEO trainer, I’m still too scared to authorize a mass 301 redirect of people’s content, especially if they’ve built up a good number of backlinks.

A rel=canonical tag is a safe solution to duplicate content. This tag, when placed properly in the head of a web page and indexed by Google crawlers, instructs Google as to whether this page is the original version, or if there is another version of the content out on there web somewhere.

When indicated, Google will not only ignore the duplicate version of the webpage, but it will steer any PageRank or link metrics acquired by the duplicate version over to the original version.

So take www.yourwebsite.com and http://yourwebsite.com. Let’s say you want the www version of the domain to be the one Google ranks highest.

In the http:// version, place the tag <link href=”www.yourwebsite.com ” rel=”canonical” />. Voila, you’ve corrected the duplicate content issue with this page.

For all other pages on the www version of your site, do the same thing. So for http://yourwebsite.com/test-55/ place the tag <link href=”www.yourwebsite.com/test-55/ ” rel=”canonical”/> in the head of the web page. Read more about canonical tags at Moz here – https://moz.com/blog/canonical-url-tag-the-most-important-advancement-in-seo-practices-since-sitemaps – or contact me below for a free consultation.

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