SEO Tip: How To Fix Canonical URL Issues

Simple SEO Tip: Canonical URLs…

Here is a simple tip for you and something you can check right now.

Go you your website and make a note of the URL. Typically it will look like this:

http://www.yourwebsite.co.uk

Now change the URL and delete the “WWW.” part so that it looks like this:

http://yourwebsite.co.uk

and hit return. What happens, does your web address go back to including the “www.” or does it stay the same?

If it goes back to www. then you do not have a “Canonical” URL issue but if it stays the same then you need to get it fixed.

Why fix it? Well, even though you know it is the same website the poor search engines don’t. They see it as two separate websites. And they will see it as something called “Duplicate Content” and will “mark down” the relevance of the site in there search engine algorithms.

Here is an article from a Google insider Matt Cutts, he is a top-bod within Google and worth reading. In this article he goes into a little more detail about canonical URL issues an answers some common questions. Matt Cutts

There is a simple fix but it’s a little bit technical and if done wrong will make your site inaccessible to web users. So before you do anything please make sure you know what your doing! (Disclaimer: You mess about with your .htaccess file at your own risk, I cannot be held responsible for any problems you inflict on your site!)

First you need access to your web server and to a file called “.htaccess”. You then need to edit that file and add some extra lines of code.

Here is an example:

ReWriteEngine on

ReWriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www.yourwebsite.co.uk

ReWriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourwebsite.co.uk/$1[R=permanent,L]

If you want to get a little more “techie” and read about more “fun” things you can do with your .htaccess file, then go here http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/mod_rewrite-tips-and-tricks.html#require-the-www-in-htaccess. It make for a relaxing light read for those who are true geeks at heart… ;-)

By using .htaccess re-writes you can fix other canonical issues, fix 404 page not found issues and a host of other SEO problems that could be plaguing your website.