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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

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    October 10, 2009 at 5:43 pm

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  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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    October 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

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    October 10, 2009 at 9:16 pm

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    October 10, 2009 at 9:49 pm

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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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Tech News

The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?

(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?

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Person using phone with laptop to verify CAPTCHAs and code.

We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.

Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.

The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.

Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.

But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.

“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.

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Business Entrepreneur

15 tips to spot a toxic work environment when interviewing

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Interviewing can be tricky, but this new infographic will help you look for signs of toxicity before, during, and after the interview.

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Person in an interview

When we’re in the process of job hunting, we’re typically looking because we need a change, for multiple reasons. Any interview sparks hope. Because we’re sometimes so willing to make that change, we often put our blinders on in the hopes that whatever comes is the perfect opportunity for us.

With those blinders, however, it can be common to miss some red flags that tell you what you really need to know about the job you may be applying or interviewing for. Luckily, Resume.io is here to help.

They have developed 15 warning signs in their infographic: How to Spot a Toxic Work Environment Before You Take the Job. Let’s dive in and take a look at these.

First, the preparation before the interview. Red flags can shop up from the get-go. Here’s what to look out for before you even meet face-to-face (or over the phone/Zoom).

  1. Vague job description: If there is nothing substantial about the description of the job itself and only buzzwords like “team player,” be on alert.
  2. Negative Glassdoor reviews: These reviews on company culture are worth taking into account. If multiple people have a recurring issue, it’s something to be aware of.
  3. Arranging an interview is taking forever: If they keep you waiting, it’s typically a sign of disorganization. This may not always be the case, but pay attention to how they’re respecting you and your time.
  4. Your arrival comes as a surprise to them: Again, disorganization. This is also displaying a lack of communication in the company.
  5. The interview starts late: See the last sentence of #3. Not only are they disrespecting your time, but they’re displaying a lack of time management.

Now, for the high-pressure situation: During the interview. Here’s what you need to be keeping an eye on (while simultaneously listing your strengths and weaknesses, of course)

  1. Unpreparedness: If the interviewer is scattered and not prepared for your conversation, this may be a sign that they don’t fully understand the tasks and expectations for the job.
  2. Doesn’t get into your skill set: If they don’t ask about your skills, how can they know what you’re bringing to the table?
  3. Rudeness: If the interviewer is rude throughout the interview or is authoritative (either to you or to a panel who may be present,) be on alert. This is just a sign of what’s to come.
  4. Uncommunicative about company values: If it’s different from what’s on their website or they seem spacey about company values, this is a red flag.
  5. Your questions aren’t being answered: If they’re avoiding answering your questions, they may be hiding an aspect of the job – or the company – that they don’t want to reveal.

Finally, the waiting game. Once the interview is complete, here are some less-than-good things to be on the lookout for. Keep in mind that some of these may be hard to gauge seeing that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and many companies haven’t returned to their offices yet:

  1. Brief interview: If the interview was too short, they are either desperate or have already filled the position. Either way, bad.
  2. Quiet workplace: This may be a sign of a lack of teamwork or a tense environment.
  3. No tour: If you don’t get to see the office, again, they may be hiding something.
  4. Offer on the day of interview: Not giving you time to think may be a sign of desperation.
  5. Leaving you waiting: Again, if they leave you waiting on an answer like they did with scheduling, it’s a sign of disorganization and disrespect.

While one of these 15 things happening doesn’t necessarily mean the job is a bust, a few of these things happening may be an indicator to look elsewhere.

 

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Social Media

Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.

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Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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