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Cannonical Url Issue


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10 replies to this topic

#1 leekby

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:27 AM

Hi All,

I have been an avid follower of Jill's newsletter and forum for many years but having very little experience/understanding of seo never felt it right to question or add input as I dont have much to add that would be beneficial, so now I am going to be one of those add nothing and take users (apologies for this, although I am trying to convince my bosses to organise a review of our sites by Jill, but purse strings and all that!!!)

I received an email from a company obviously trying to obtain our seo business and for me it was good that they came with some feedback rather than these mass produced dull emails, but back to the point a snippet of it is below, now im not sure whether what is being said is fundamentally correct so appreciate feedback on that also:
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I saw a small flaw with your website which if corrected should help you to get more traffic from Google and all of the major search engines online.You have a Canonical URL issue in your website which means that google bot will see 2 versions of your home page. This means that google is dividing the authority amongst the 2 pages which are actually a single page. i.e. your main page : www.example.co.uk and the page : www.example.co.uk/index.htm
In effect the power of your homepage is being reduced by half!

Your web developer can easily correct this issue by making a 301 redirect from www.example.co.uk/index.htm to www.example.co.uk
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I thought that I best send this to my web developer to get an understanding on this and he tried to fix the issue, I have received an email back from the web developer as below:
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With regard to the 301 redirect, as it would mean that the site would be down for a short time, I thought it best to do this last night. I created an .asp index page and deleted the .htm version but it created, what I would call, a recursive error with the message 'the redirection limit for this URL has been exceeded'. I think that this is because redirecting the Index page to the URL is effectively redirecting it to itself.

You probably know that when the URL is entered into a browser (I tried Explorer and Firefox) the browser looks for the Index file, there is only one Index file, there is not a separate page for the URL.

I have put everything back to how it was and I will look into this matter further but I would appreciate your comments.
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Could someone please advise firstly, whether it is infact dividing the ranking with the search engines and secondly how to fix the issue correctly based on the web developers feedback.

Thanks in advance

Lee

#2 Jill

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:12 PM

Most of the time these days Google knows they're one and the same and it's not a problem. However, it is good practice to always have just one URL for every page.

#3 qwerty

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:44 PM

You definitely don't want to make the mistake of linking to your home page as /index.htm, because then you're actually going so far as to tell search engines that there's both domain.com and domain.com/index.htm (not to mention domain.com/directory/index.htm on top of domain.com/directory/). If the search engines are going to figure it out for themselves, this will complicate matters. And even if you don't link to /index.htm, there's nothing stopping somebody else from linking to your site as domain.com/index.htm.

I prefer to make sure they know which version is canonical right away by redirecting /index.htm to /.

Here's some code for your .htaccess file that ought to do the trick. It will also redirect http://domain.com/ to http://www.domain.com/ (which takes away another opportunity for engines to treat different addresses for a page as multiple pages containing the same content). Just replace "url.com" with your domain name.

CODE
RewriteEngine on
# Force requests for named index files to drop the index file filename, and force www:
#
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /([^/]*/)*index\.(htm?|php)(\?[^\ ]*)?\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^(([^/]*/)*)index\.(htm?|php)$  http://www.url.com/$1  [R=301,L]
#
# Redirect non-www to www:
#
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   ^url\.com                     [NC]
RewriteRule  (.*)           http://www.url.com/$1        [R=301,L]


#4 leekby

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:15 AM

Hi Jill, thanks for your reply.
--------------------------------------------

Hi Qwerty, I have spoken to the web developer and what I didnt say on my post was that the website is hosted on a windows server and apparently according to him, a windows server doesnt have a htaccess file, these are only on Linux servers.

The website is a non ecommerce website and not dynamically driven, not sure if that makes any difference to the feedback?

I appreciate the help.

#5 Jill

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 05:05 PM

The recommendations are the same, you just can't use an .htaccess file to do them.

#6 leekby

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 03:56 AM

Hi Jill, sorry I meant, is there a different code or a different way that it needs doing, my first post explained the problems the web developer was facing.

#7 Ron Carnell

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 07:21 AM

ISAPI Rewrite has become a very common addition to Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). If you are leasing your server (as opposed to owning it yourself), it may already has ISAPI Rewrite installed. If not, it's still well worth investigating.

ISAPI Rewrite essentially mimics the functionality of mod_rewrite on Apache. You'll be able to use the same syntax Qwerty supplied you above to do exactly what you want. And a lot more.




#8 leekby

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 11:53 AM

Thanks for the prompt reply, I have spoken to my web developer who has in turn spoke to his hosting company and ISAPI rewrite is not available to bolt on to the hosting, are there any other ways around this to solve the problem?

#9 Jill

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 12:50 PM

New hosting company?

#10 Ron Carnell

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 01:29 PM

Before ISAPI Rewrite was available the most common solution was to wedge into the 404 vector. Essentially, your link to a non-exist ant page would cause IIS to send a 404 status code, but a script would intercept that code, look to see if the page requested was on its internal list, and if found the script would send them to the proper page with a 200 status code. If the page requested wasn't found, the 404 status code would stand. It was a confusing kludge, but it worked, and for a long time was all we had.

Mikkel Svendsen is a well known name in the SE community and was at the forefront of the IIS 404 trap way back in the mid- to late-Nineties. I doubt he (or anyone else) has done much work on it recently, but you might be able to find some old posts listed in Google under his name (or under mine). Frankly, it would be a Hail Mary play at best.

I suspect the old days should remain relegated to the past, not resurrected to solve a problem long since solved. Your best bet, as Jill implied, is to find a host that does support ISAPI rewrite. It's a tool you really should have in your arsenal, not just for this problem but for a host of other situations where you'll find it helpful.




#11 chrishirst

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 04:52 PM

Smart404 and my site http://www.modtalk.co.uk/ uses my own rewrite/decode code on the 404 page.

Also IIS7 and up has a built in URL Rewrite Module




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