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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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    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 Entrepreneur

The next Amazon delivery partners are your corner mom-and-pop shops

(ENTREPRENEUR) Amazon has been stepping up their game, and their newest strategy is to include small business owners, mom-and-pop shops, and entrepreneurs.

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Samsung photo with amazon app loading page.

The world is reeling from supply chain issues from missing menu items at your favorite restaurant to a nationwide baby formula crisis. Amazon is one of the largest retailers in the world and its adaptation strategy is a return to the basics: work with local, small-town retailers. Yes, you read that right. Amazon is taking a grassroots approach to getting the goods to outlying and underserved communities.

Amazon is aware that its shipping speed to rural areas sometimes leaves much to be desired. Shipping directly to a person’s home in rural areas without Amazon facilities nearby and fewer available drivers causes delays. Shipping to an Amazon locker in the nearest metro takes less shipping time, with the tradeoff being the consumer picking up the responsibility for the last leg of the process. This isn’t always a valid option for a lot of people. What if you don’t drive and you need that particular item immediately? Many members of these isolated communities may be elderly or have poverty barriers to traveling long distances. Low-wage workers often have trouble finding time to go out of their way. Sure, you could ask your neighbor or there are other services, but that isn’t providing equitable service to disadvantaged populations. That’s one of the reasons Amazon’s new strategy for rural delivery is so useful.

Not only do the packages get to their destinations fast, but small businesses working with Amazon add an income stream by playing a role in the package journey. For small businesses reeling from the pandemic and lagging rural economies, this work with Amazon offers an opportunity to pull in much-needed capital by doing something as simple as delivering packages in their hometown. They don’t have to drive all over creation, just in their hometown which will reduce carbon emissions. Right now, with the gas prices as they are, that’s a huge plus.

There are other pluses to this too. By working with small businesses, Amazon is bolstering rural economies and empowering isolated communities. They’ll have more purchasing power, which is a win for everyone. Amazon is actively helping small businesses and it’s a great reverse on the trend of forced obsolescence we usually see when big-box retailers are involved.

If you’re struggling with supply chain issues, consider taking a page out of Amazon’s book. Get in touch with local small businesses in your area and see if you can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you are a small business, be open to partnerships and opportunities to diversify your income to help stabilize yourself in an uncertain market. It’ll help you both in the long run, increasing the resiliency of both businesses.

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Social Media

Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.

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Grindr on phone in man's hands

If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?

Wrong.

Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.

Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?

They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.

This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.

If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?

So, moral of the story?

Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.

You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!

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Business Marketing

7 low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses to grow their reach

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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Man leaning against wall on phone representing marketing.

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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