What is a Canonical URL?
According to Wikipedia: “URL Canonization (aka URL Normalization) is the process by which URLs are modified and standardized in a consistent manner. The goal of the normalization process is to transform a URL into a normalized or canonical URL so it is possible to determine if two syntactically different URLs may be equivalent.”
WWW or non WWW for SEO
From an SEO point of view, there is no advantage using one versus the other as long as you don’t use both. Arguments for both sides have continued for some time.
If you fail to choose and direct a preferred canonical URL you risk penalties for duplicate content. Duplicate content will lower the effectiveness of all your SEO efforts. Google will only count one page for original content and disregard the other as copied content.
Google Webmaster Tools article on Canonicalization: “we recommend that you pick a canonical (preferred) URL as the preferred version of the page. You can indicate your preference to Google in a number of ways. We recommend them all, though none of them is required (if you don’t indicate a canonical URL, we’ll identify what we think is the best version).”
A web server can count each of the following as a completely different URL.
Even though they look similar and many people would say they all take you to the home page, to a web server they are different locations.
Read our other post about duplicate content
How To Test My URLs
This is pretty simple. Just type in both version of the page. Type your domain name with www before the domain name – does the www stay in the address bar or does it go away? Then do the same without the www. Does the www appear?
Canonical URL Fixes
One of the best fixes is making sure all internal links are consistently using the same version of the URL. If you are using WordPress there are a number of plugins that help with canonical redirects like Yoast WordPress SEO.
Specify a preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools:
- On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
- Click the gear icon , and then click Site Settings.
- In the Preferred domain section, select the option you want.
Use your preference in the sitemap. Again, be consistent.
Be consistent with inbound links as well. Choose your preference and stick with it. Make sure all media is using the same version of the domain. This includes everything from business cards to online profiles.
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