What is Canonicalization of a Website?
Obviously it is adding lots of images of canons to your website. Just kidding – the word for the image above is actually spelled “cannon”. Let’s take a look and see what canonicalization really means…
Canonicalization means to make your website canonical. Got it? Not really? Ok well canonical is an adjective used to indicate that something is like a canon. A “canon” spelled with one “n” refers to a body of rules or principles and it comes from the Greek word kanon that means “rule”.
So when something is canonical you could say it is in adherence to a set of rules and the canonicalization of something is making it adhere to a set of rules. Voila, now go do that to your website for great SEO results!
Still not sure what this has to do with SEO? Read on…
The obvious question here is: “What rules do I have to make my website adhere to?” Regarding SEO and websites what you want to canonicalize are your URLs. You want to make sure that all your pages show up with a single consistent URL.
A good example to look at that best demonstrates canonical and non-canonical URLs is the typical home page. Some Internet users will type “www.exampledomainname.com” and others will just type “exampledomainname.com”. Then you could wind up with some users browsing your website or linking to your website using “www.exampledomainname.com/samplepage.html” and others “exampledomainname.com/samplepage.html”.
Search engines actually regard that as two different pages and this will cost you. If half the links to your site did it one way and the other half did it the other way then you are effectively cutting your “link juice” in half and for SEO – that is disastrous!
Canonicalization would be deciding what the rule is going to be for your website – either it is “www.exampledomain.com” or it is “exampledomain.com” – and making sure that whenever someone is browsing the site they are doing it correctly per your rule.
Don’t want to lose visitors who might try to get to your website using the wrong rule? No worries – there are ways to still allow people to get the site using the wrong URL by redirecting them using a “301 redirect” over to the correct URL. A “301 redirect” is something that tells a browser or search engine crawler that a given page has been permanently moved somewhere else. The same technique will also send the “link juice” to the correct URL and ensure it gets attributed correctly.
So if you don’t know how to do that feel free to give us a call and we will happily help you SEO your site!
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