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Use the Canonical

Over the past few weeks all the major search engines have announced support for a new link element to help clean the web of duplicate URL’s. This new element allows site owners to specify the default URL for any page to help avoid duplication.

Duplicate content can be a big problem for some sites as nearly all content can be accessed using different URL’s and leads to Page Rank can being diluted. Think of the following URL’s that all access the same content:

Even this post can be accessed through a different URL. There are then other times when additional data is passed in the URL that results in different URL’s for the same content, think about:

All these cases result in multiple URL’s pointing to the same content. This can result in a worse Page Rank for your site as your content becomes diluted and people linking to you link to several different URL’s – resulting in a lower number of incoming links to the page, which in result….lowers your “Google juice”.

Setting the Canonical

The newly supported link element allows the site owner to specify the correct URL for the page and is very easily done.

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.webvamp.co.uk/blog/seo/use-the-canonical/" />

All you need to do is place this into your <head> section and the search engines can use it to better index your site.

You can read more about this on Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask’s blogs.


About The Author

Jacob Wyke is a web developer from the UK who makes complex things simple on the internet. He develops a batch image resizer for Mac OS X called ImageXY which you should try if you ever need to resize anything for the web.

You should also follow him on twitter.