Duplicate Content? Use rel-canonical


Content is great. Duplicate content is bad. It can cause the full weight and wrath of Google to fall upon your website. Penalties can cause businesses and brands to virtually fall off the face of the world. The goal for Google is to penalise sites that scrape content or which try to game the search system. But some sites have duplicate content for legitimate reasons. They may be manufacturers who have product information that is standard, or you may have multiple versions of your website because you have different physical locations. By implementing rel=canonical, you can request that Google not index certain pages or sites because of duplicate content issues. How do you do this?

By implementing this tag, you are telling Google which version of a page is the preferred – or canonical – version. They do not have to listen to you; they could index it, but typically, they will respect that request. How do you make this request?

Go to the <head> section of your webpage; this is where elements like titles, title tags, and metatags, are listed. Here’s an example:

<title>Title of the document</title>

The content of the document……


Let’s say we have product information for blue socks. This is listed alphabetically, by price, in the sock section, and in the blue section of our site. We don’t want Google looking at all the duplicates, so we politely point them to the canonical version. So, into the <head> section, you simply enter a line of code, such as:

<link rel=”canonical” href=http://www.socksnmore.com/bluesocks.php?item=blue-socks/”>

Next, copy this into the <head> of all the non-canonical versions of the page.

You don’t want to use rel=canonical with pagination: for example, if you have an article that runs for three pages, and they all have the same URL, save the page number, that is fine. That’d not duplicate content, and Google will not recognise it as such. Google has some helpful hints and some “don’ts” that will help you determine when to use the tag and how to do it correctly.

Check it out, and see if your site would benefit from rel=canonical.

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