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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

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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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  9. Ara Mamourian

    October 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

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    October 10, 2009 at 9:16 pm

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  11. Zeeways

    October 10, 2009 at 9:36 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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Social Media

TikTok takes aim at Cameo while helping creators monetize content

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok has a new feature that takes a swipe at Cameo, but also helps content creators to monetize their efforts more meaningfully.

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tiktok shoutouts

Not too long ago, an app called Cameo launched with the sole intention of connecting “normal” people with celebrities via chats and personalized videos.

These days, TikTok is adopting Cameo’s philosophy with “Shoutouts,” a feature that will allow users to request content from their favorite creators.

The allure of Cameo lies in its simplicity: One need only fill out a request form and spend several hundred to several thousand dollars to receive a custom video from a celebrity of their choosing (should said celebrity accept the request) within a week.

However, Cameo – a relatively new, relatively untested app–possesses a bit of a disadvantage that TikTok doesn’t have: It didn’t have a built-in, pre-existing audience prior to launching its core premise.

TikTok’s Shoutouts feature looks to capitalize on existing users as well as in-app currency, making it much more convenient than its spiritual predecessor.

As with Cameo, the way Shoutouts works is fairly straightforward. Users will be able to select a creator, request a certain style of video from them–the devil is very much in the details here–and then wait for “up to 3 days” to see if the creator accepts the request. Payment will be submitted at this time.

Should the request be accepted, the creator will create the video and pass it off to TikTok for review, a process that–according to the feature’s page–should take around a week to complete. The user who requested the video will then be able to view it in their DMs.

If the creator decides to reject the video, the user will receive a refund. This is a feature that Cameo uses as well, so–in theory–TikTok should be able to leverage the same ideology.

There are a couple of minor benefits to TikTok’s implementation of this feature. Firstly, while some TikTok stars may have celebrity status, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of creators will be able to use the Shoutouts feature; this means that the aforementioned “normal” people will be able to monetize their platform, something that wasn’t possible on Cameo.

Secondly, the use of in-app currency–something that has traditionally been used for gifting livestreamers–makes the process of hiring a creator a bit more convenient. That convenience will most likely translate directly to the success of Shoutouts as it develops.

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Business News

Startup seeks to streamline your software shopping search

(BUSINESS) This startup with a waitlist wants to help you shop for software without having to tear your hair out, become an expert, or hire a consultant.

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software shopping with testbox

Software shopping is, undoubtedly, one of the most crucial aspects of any successful business: Choose correctly, and you’ll find yourself seamlessly moving through daily operations, while a poor choice often results in a lack of efficiency. Unfortunately, the shopping aspect is anything but efficient, with demos and sales meetings lasting for unnecessarily long periods of time. That’s where TestBox comes into play.

TestBox is a tool born out of frustrated necessity. According to creator Sam Senior, “The inspiration for TestBox came from repeatedly hearing just how incredibly frustrating the software buying experience is…I heard similar stories where buyers felt that the process was all on the sales team’s terms, often taking many months, and without all the information and access they needed to be truly confident in their decision.”

It’s a tale as old as time: Sales teams effectively hold your time hostage, planning meetings and tech demos in controlled environments; you, in turn, receive a partial truth regarding the product you’re considering, and at the end of the process, you feel pressured into purchasing the product–if for no other reason than you’ve already dedicated a full workweek (or, heaven forbid, month) to it.

TestBox offers a simple, elegant solution to this problem: the ability to compare multiple tools that have been selected for your needs. One need only specify their software requirements in the TestBox menu to receive a list of software that fits those requirements, complete with “guided walkthroughs for each software and use case.”

There’s also a side-by-side comparison feature for different software types, allowing you to make a truly informed decision using your data and interfaces rather than relying on a scripted demo.

Finally, TestBox provides graphics to show pros and cons from an efficiency standpoint for each tool you test; once you make a decision, TestBox connects you with the software provider to complete your purchase.

It should be noted that TestBox is free to use. According to their website, their revenue comes via commission for facilitating a software purchase, and since that commission is fairly uniform rather than varying per tool, TestBox assures you that their presentation of each option is not swayed in the process.

TestBox also partners with ZenDesk, HubSpot, and FreshDesk, so make of that what you will.

Currently, TestBox has a waitlist for use. They plan on adding a variety of CRM and Customer Success options to their client list soon.

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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jack of all trades learning

When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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