This week in online marketing! Here’s what you need to know.

Google is locking down on duplicate content

This content lock-down is caused by incorrect canonical url placement. A canonical url is a little piece of code your website developer places on a page to let search engines like Google know that this piece of content is referencing another page. This is a way for developers to indicate the authoritative URL for any piece of content. As a result, search engines attribute all ranking credit to the referenced url.

Why is this happening?

Earlier in 2016, many websites switched from HTTP to HTTPS for that little bump in search ranking. Since this change, Google has made a more recent algorithm update that is issuing warnings to sites that have incorrectly moved to HTTPS – which is most often a result of incorrect canonical URL mapping. There are several situations that can lead to a duplicate content warning.

The most common are:

  • Dynamic URLs
  • Mobile specific websites
  • International sites without correct geo-targeting
  • www and subdomain issues
  • Contact Management Systems generating multiple URLs for the same content
  • Content syndication on other blogs
  • Running your site on both HTTP and HTTPS simultaneously

The most common example people are seeing today are four URL variations created when running a www, non-www, HTTP, and HTTPS instance of their website.
Running your website with all four cases at once creates four potential urls with exact content. Ideally, your canonical URL would sort this out.

However, having multiple canonical tags referencing the same authoritative page appears “spammy” to Google. When four versions of your website all point to one authority, Google is reading it as four pages all saying “Index this one, Index this one!” Issues like this impact trust and confidence with a URL and poor rankings have a drastic impact on your business.

How do you fix the problem?

If you can redirect, utilize proper 301 redirects to redirect to your preferred subdomain or your preferred protocol. A site-wide “catch-all” redirection rule can help deal with 90% of your redirect issues in one test. Where a canonical is required, you need to implement a page-level canonical from one variation to the other. Determine your primary subdomain and protocol (HTTP or HTTPS), ensure all duplicates have canonical tags pointing to the primary page.

Just think – one URL to rule them all!

Today adding an SEO plugin or a copy-paste canonical URL is not enough. Canonicals needs to be implemented with care and authority.
For more details on this problem, click the link in this post.