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SEO Services Involve Implementing Domain Canonicalization

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Posted by Dave Lauretti on November 23, 2009

While providing SEO services in Burlington and even Toronto GTA, I’ve encountered a great array of website or business owners that haven’t heard about domain or URL canonicalization.

Are you aware that search engines and more importantly Google can consider the following web addresses different and thus be slightly confused as to which domain to list in the search engines? Take a look below at what I’m talking about.

  • http://youdomain.com
  • http://www.yourdomain.com
  • www.yourdomain.com
  • yourdomain.com
  • http://youdomain.com/index.html
  • http://www.yourdomain.com/index.html
  • www.yourdomain.com/index.html
  • yourdomain.com/index.html

If you were to navigate to any of those URLs you would see the exact same page – the home page –  but in the eyes of Google those are 8 different pages and could eventually cause you quite a stir.

So How Do We Deal With Domain Canonicalization?

There are a number of ways to properly deal with domain canonicalization issues but the first thing you should do is decide which domain you wish to be your preferred domain. I tend to prefer my domain to be listed in the search engines and linked to in the following manner: http://www.mydomain.com. So once you’ve contacted your guy in IT or if you are the IT or web designer make your decision and move on to the next step.

Next you have to use the right mechanism to make sure all requests for any URL other than your preferred domain will actually redirect to it. So in my case if someone navigates to http://mydomain.com (without the www) it automatically redirects to http://www.mydomain.com.

How Do We Rediect To Our Preferred Domain?

This stage involves using a mechanism that will work with your server. If you’re on a Windows server the mechanism you use will be different than it would be if you were on a UNIX server. Find out what platform you are using and visit this page which provides the right 301 redirect script for what you will be using.

My favorite way to set my preferred domain is by either adding into or creating a new .htaccess file and adding the following declarations:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^domain.com [nc]
rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [r=301,nc]

The above code may seem intimidating to some but all you need to do to customize the script to your needs is replace yourdomain with your actual domain name.

You can also tell Google which domain is your preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools. There will only be two options available which are the most common ones, namely; http://yourdomain.com or http://www.yourdomain.com.

It is a good idea to register your website with Google Webmaster Tools because the information Google will provide you about your website is very invaluable.

So this is the end of a little lesson on domain canonicalization.

If these type of SEO services are not something you feel you can code on your own, simply contact us and we’ll take care of it for you.


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