Fixing the Duplicate Content Issue

Posted on February 19, 2009. Filed under: Linking Strategies, SEO Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Recently Google announced that they now have a format that you can use within your web pages that allow you to specify which URL you prefer to use for your web pages.  This helps to alleviate the duplicate content issue that many site owners and SEOs have been dealing with for years.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that someone linked to one of your pages using the following URL:

http://www.SomeSite.com/cart.php?item=someitem

But this same item on your site could also be accessed by the following URL as well:

http://www.SomeSite.com/cart.php?item=someitem&category=somecategory

Since both pages contain almost identical information, search engines may consider this duplicate content.

Now, all you need to do is add a line of code within the “<head>” section of your web pages code to specify which URL you prefer your site to use.

Here’s what the code would look like:

This tells Google (as well as Yahoo and Microsoft) the preferred way you want this URL to appear.

Why this is so important is because it will help to make sure that things such as link popularity all are pointing to the page you want them to.

Keep in mind that this code should only be used for pages that are either absolutely identical or so similar to one another that it would cause a duplicate content issue for your site.

Within their post, Google answers a lot of questions about this format but probably the most important answers are:

  1. The rel=”canonical” code above CAN be a redirect.
  2. It CANNOT be used to link to a completely different domain.
  3. This standard can be used by any search engine when they crawl and index your site.

So now that you know how to use it for your website, what about your blog?

Luckily, there’s already been a new plugin developed just for this purpose which you can get here.

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