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SEO Tip – Canonicalization

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World Wide WebIn last week’s SEO Tip about linking to the home page correctly, I promised to tell you how to do “canonicalization” (just don’t ask me to pronounce it).  As a quick refresher, canonicalization is a fancy word that means to direct traffic from multiple, possibly undesirable addresses, to a single preferred address.

The most common use for this is for telling your web server to only display pages either with the “www.” or without it, but not both.  This is typically done by editing a special file named “.htaccess” located in your web servers “root” or top most folder.  If you are not VERY comfortable making changes to your server configuration, or your site is hosted on a windows server (most are not), you may need to contact your hosting company to get this set up for you.

CAUTION: techie geek stuff aheadCAUTION: Extreme geekiness ahead!  If you  are comfortable attempting this, you should know that the .htaccess file can be used for all sorts of things, besides redirects.  It can contain security settings, server configurations and file type settings to name just a few.  If you are not careful you could cause serious problems – including preventing access to your site.  Be carefull if you decide to edit this yourself.  Create a copy first, just in case.

If you want your site to only be viewed without the “www.“ then you should add this code to the bottom of your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^mywebsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://mydomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

If you want to force your site to use the “www.”, then you should add this code to the bottom of your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^domain.com [nc]
rewriterule ^(.*)$ https://www.domain.com/$1 [r=301,nc]

I feel it’s important to caution you again – while the code used to do redirects is rather simple, even a small error can have significant consequences for your site.  Use EXTREME caution.

As far as SEO is concerned, neither way is better than the other, just be consistent.  However, shorter domains are generally easier to use on various social sites.

Canonicalization is also useful at the individual file or post level.  If you use WordPress, or practically any Content Management System (CMS) to run your site there is a very good chance you are creating multiple paths you’re your content, also called “duplicate content”, without even realizing it.  Can visitors get to your pages through archives, categories or tags?  If yes, you are probably have duplicate content.  This should be an easy fix though.  Google and the other engines adopted the use of a special META tag (Sorry – more of them) called the canonical tag.  It’s a way for you to tell the engines which path it should consider the “correct” path.  In WordPress there are plugins like the All in One SEO Pack that will create this for your automagically.  If you are creating code by hand then you just need to add the following to the HEAD section of your pages:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.yourdoman.com/path-to-your-post/" />

I know this post ranked high on the geek-o-meter, but hopefully no one’s head exploded.  Duplicate content is a serious issue, but thankfully it’s one that is easily avoided on your own sites and now you know how to do it, or at least now you know you have to tell your host to fix it.

It’s been a few weeks since we started this series – hopefully you are finding them helpful and are seeing some positive effects in your rankings.

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG (www.tgslc.org). In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 10, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Jack:

    Good post. You’re a brave man though!

    RM

  2. NorthMetroSBDC

    October 10, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    RT @SEOnewz: SEO Tip – Canonicalization | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius https://cli.gs/dteBv

  3. SEO Bird

    October 10, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    SEO Tip – Canonicalization | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius https://bit.ly/3aHRaB

  4. Tek Loong Lee

    October 10, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Real Estate news | SEO Tip – Canonicalization | Real Estate Opinion MAG – Agen.. https://bit.ly/3aHRaB
    | Read More…

  5. Doug Francis

    October 10, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Wow, I just asked this question at RE BarCamp in Lynchburg on Thursday… and I’m 99.9% sure you weren’t there!

    There was one guy who discussed “conicalization” with me since I was asking about links that I see at Google Webmaster Tools vs. link:dougfrancis.com. Seems that Google WT showns 1500+ links but link: shows few.

    His answer, it’s a conicalization issue, no?

    Jack, my suggestion to your readers is to BACK-UP your site before messing around with any code, especially any file referred to as a “special file” by you.

  6. Shirley

    October 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    SEO Tip – Canonicalization | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius https://bit.ly/PbmhL

  7. Bob

    October 10, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Google shows links to both the www and non-www if you are either

    a) not rediretcing one to the other,

    or

    b) using a 302 redirect

    In your case Doug, you are employing a 302 redirect, which tells Google this is just a temporary redirect. It is also wasting the PR from one set of those links as a 302 doesnt pass page rank.

  8. Houseologist

    October 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm

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  9. Ara Mamourian

    October 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

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  10. Daniel Arlt

    October 10, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    SEO Tip – Canonicalization | Real Estate Opinion MAG – AgentGenius: In addition to managing the team that devel.. https://bit.ly/1vQ9iB

  11. Zeeways

    October 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm

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  12. Naomi

    October 10, 2009 at 9:49 pm

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  13. Wm Cole Smith

    October 11, 2009 at 8:32 am

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  14. Doug Francis

    October 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Bob – thanks for the heads up since it made me think about my GoDaddy account (where I host my site).

    I have had dougfrancis.com since 1999 but when I started the current site it was under another domain name hosted elsewhere which was a super slow host.

    We switched everything to GoDaddy in May or June for speed and simplicity but I had redirected the domains back to the old site/host. Ooops, I had forgotten to tell GoDaddy that dougfrancis.com is hosted (now) with them. When I checked this morning the GD Nameservers still thought it was hosted with another provider. So I selected “hosting account” at GD.

    I really appreciate your suggestions… and will keep you posted.

    Hey, I thought “geekiness” is cool?

  15. Bob Wilson

    October 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    One cool thing with Jack’s series here is that it goes to show that it all starts with the basics.

    You will want to redirect dougfrancishomes.com as well using a 301. There are several links pointing to that domain that are being wasted becuase of the 302.

  16. Doug Francis

    October 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve been in there getting that done… thanks. All my domains were forwarding to the other host, now they are forwarding to dougfrancis.com on the godaddy nameserver.

  17. Claudia Gonella

    October 12, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    The other common duplicate url is for the home page where a index.php or index.htm file is used. (ie home page found on both domain.com and domain.com/index.htm)

  18. Jake Brumble

    October 13, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Ah yes, another spider instruction, I see the point.

    I don’t care for the www prefix. it seems a bit archaic, these days it seems most useful for your site address on a business cards, sans http // www mysite.net better cues the reader than mysite.net.

    I will stick with the prefixless mysite.com form even though, as I understand cookies for the domain will also apply to any subdomains.

  19. Jack Leblond

    October 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Looks like you guys all answered all your own questions while I was vacationing in the great state of Maine. Nice work.

    Hopefully this didn’t knock you all to far off the geek-scale.

  20. Alexis Jameson

    October 22, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Keep up the good work with your post – very informative!

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Business Finance

How to survive a recession in the modern economy

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Advice about surviving a recession is common these days, but its intended audience can leave a large gap in application.

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recession squeeze

There’s no question of whether or not we’re in a recession right now, and while some may debate the severity of this recession in comparison to the last major one, there are undoubtedly some parallels–something Next Avenue’s Elizabeth White highlights in her advice on planning for the next few months (or years).

Among White’s musings are actionable strategies that involve forecasting for future layoffs, anticipating age discrimination, and swallowing one’s ego in regards to labor worth and government benefits like unemployment.

White isn’t wrong. It’s exceptionally important to plan for the future as much as possible–even when that plan undergoes major paradigm shifts a few times a week, at best–and if you can reduce your spending at all, that’s a pretty major part of your planning that doesn’t necessarily have to be subjected to those weekly changes.

However, White also approaches the issue of a recession from an angle that assumes a few things about the audience–that they’re middle-aged, relatively established in their occupation, and about to be unemployed for years at a time. These are, of course, completely reasonable assumptions to make…but they don’t apply to a pretty large subset of the current workforce.

We’d like to look at a different angle, one from which everything is a gig, unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed, and long-term savings are a laughable concept at best.

White’s advice vis-a-vis spending is spot-on–cancelling literally everything you can to avoid recurring charges, pausing all non-essential memberships (yes, that includes Netflix), and downgrading your phone plan–it’s something that transcends generational boundaries.

In fact, it’s even more important for this generation than White’s because of how frail our savings accounts really are. This means that some of White’s advice–i.e., plan for being unemployed for years–isn’t really feasible for a lot of us.

It means that taking literally any job, benefit, handout, or circumstantial support that we can find is mandatory, regardless of setbacks. It means that White’s point of “getting off the throne” isn’t extreme enough–the throne needs to be abolished entirely, and survival mode needs to be implemented immediately.

We’re not a generation that’s flying all over the place for work, investing in real estate because it’s there, and taking an appropriate amount of paid time off because we can; we’re a generation of scrappy, gig economy-based, paycheck-to-paycheck-living, student debt-encumbered individuals who were, are, and will continue to be woefully unprepared for the parameters of a post-COVID world.

If you’re preparing to be unemployed, you’re recently unemployed, or you even think you might undergo unemployment at some point in your life, start scrapping your expenses and adopt as many healthy habits as possible. Anything goes.

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Tech Gadgets

Samsung nudged out of the top smartphone seller spot by Huawei

(TECH GADGETS) Huawei beats Samsung as the top seller of smartphones for the first time ever — but can they keep it up? How will COVID change the smartphone market?

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When you think of a best-selling smartphone, pretty much anything from Samsung or Apple tends to come to mind. During the second quarter of 2020, though, Huawei–a Chinese company–takes that title.

This is a surprising disruption of what we’ve come to expect from smartphone sales, no less so because of the United States’ ban on technology products from China. Indeed, Engadget points out that 70 percent of Huawei smartphone sales occurred within China, something that plenty of manufacturers thought would spell a significant hit for the company.

Huawei themselves actually predicted a 20 percent drop in smartphone sales during 2020–a figure that both failed to come to fruition (the company’s sales only dipped by five percent during the second quarter of 2020) and was heavily influenced by the ban. Nevertheless, their sales topped even Samsung’s during this quarter.

The smartphone company’s success can be attributed, at least in part, to China’s swift response to the Coronavirus pandemic, thus capping the sharp decrease in smartphone sales seen worldwide during 2020. By selling largely internally, Huawei was able to best their own predictions of doom and propel their brand forward.

These sales don’t come without some drawbacks. One major aspect of the tech ban on China is that Huawei phones cannot ship with the Google Play Store app or proprietary apps installed–something that virtually every other Android phone can do with free reign. This is a situation that is unlikely to change under the current administration.

Additionally, Samsung is set to release new products in the third quarter of 2020, so they expect to top Huawei once again. Surely, Huawei’s success may very well be a fluke insofar as they were able to maintain sales in a market in which every other company saw dramatic changes to their numbers.

Perhaps the most notable takeaway from this situation is Huawei’s circumstantial timing. In a world where smartphone sales took a backseat to hand sanitizer panics and mask shortages, Huawei was in the right place at the right time by marketing to home-based buyers. As this pandemic progresses and the tech ban on China tightens, it will be interesting to see how–or if–China continues to innovate in this way.

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Tech News

Australia wants Facebook and Google to pay media royalties

Australia seeks to require Facebook and Google to pay royalties to media companies for use of news content on their platforms.

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australia facebook google

Australia is in the process of requiring tech giants, Facebook and Alphabet, to pay royalties to Australian media companies for using their content. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the move the day after the US Congressional antitrust hearing that put the CEOs of Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple back in the regulatory spotlight.

In addition to the pressure from the United States investigation into market control by these companies, global leaders are calling for similar regulations. Though none have been successful, media companies in Germany, France, and Spain have pushed for legislation to force Google to pay licensing fees to use their news content. Some companies have been pushing for this for years and yet, the tech giants keep dragging out their changes, even admitting their actions are wrong.

In 2019, the Australian government instructed Facebook and Google to negotiate voluntary deals with Australian media to use their content. The Australian government says the companies failed to follow through on the directive, and therefore will be forced to intervene. They have 45 days to reach an agreement in arbitration, after which the Australian Communications and Media Authority will create legally binding terms for the companies on behalf of the Australian government.

Google claims the web traffic that it drives to media websites should be compensation enough for the content. A Google representative in Australia asserts that the government regulations would constitute interference into market competition – which would be the point, Google!

According to a 2019 study, an estimated 3,000 journalism jobs have been lost in the last decade. The previous generation of media companies has paid substantial advertising fees to Google and Facebook while receiving nothing in return for the use of its news content. Frydenberg asserts the regulatory measures are necessary to protect consumers and ensure a “sustainable media landscape” in the country.

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