March 4, 2009
Matt's got a great video tutorial explaining what canonical page issues are, as well as various ways to fix them, plus how to use this new element in your HTML code when your situation calls for it.
The idea of this new element is to provide you with a way to tell the search engines which URL is the preferred one if and when they find similar content being shown at different URLs. From what Matt says in the video, it appears that any link popularity or PageRank that might otherwise be split by multiple URLs will be channeled to the preferred URL. Since that's the main reason why you don't typically want multiple URLs for the same content, this is indeed a much-needed fix.
The code itself goes into the <HEAD> section of the page and looks simply like this:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/page.html"/>
This issue has plagued webmasters, developers, and SEOs for ages, so it's great that all of the major search engines have announced that they will support this element. Of course, it's still very new, so we've yet to see how well it works. Of course, as always when using any tag or element on your website that the search engines specifically made up, you are letting them know that you know a thing or two about SEO. But if you're not a tinfoil hat paranoid SEO, it shouldn't matter...right?
Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Services company.
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