Canonicalization is the deceleration of a specific URL as the “master copy” of a page. This action informs search engines which page to index on search results, avoiding potential confusion between multiple URL variations. The task is performed by “tagging” a page within its HTML code. A canonical tag prevents duplicate content issues and promotes the consistency of your search results on Google. Failure to utilize canonical tags can result in the following:
- Crawl Errors: Excessive content prompts crawlers to miss valuable content that would otherwise improve your rankings
- Duplicate Content: The aforementioned duplicate content can confuse search engines and their users
- Ranking Problems: Having a ton of duplicate content can affect your ability to rank on search engines
- URL Inconsistency: Failure to identify your master URL can cause your website to compete against itself on search engines
Since Google and other search engines still interpret pages via algorithms, details a human user would take for granted become imperative. The pages www.hvacwebmasters.com and hvacwebmasters.com represent a single page to website visitors, but to search engine crawlers, they are two different web pages with identical content. Denoting one of them as the “master copy” prevents URL complications, and allows search engines to accurately index your website. Call (800) 353-3409 for canonicalization for HVAC contractors.
When URL’s should be Canonicalized
Choosing the master copy of a URL variation is not the only use of canoicalization. Remember, the job of websites is to best communicate its content to search engines, so that they can properly index it and drive relevant traffic towards your domain. Whoever is in charge of your website, whether its yourself, or an outsourced marketing company, must exhaust every detail to optimize your pages for search engines. Other examples of pages that should be canonicalized include:
- Expired Content: Obsolete service pages, can be tagged to newer and more appropriate page
- Republishing: If you are republishing content on a new URL, it is important to canocolize it
Search Query Intent: Multiple pages commonly reached through one query, indicate a need to tag one or the other
- Similar Content: While duplicate content might seem obvious, having extremely similar web pages can divide your optimization potential
User experience is Google’s first priority, and therefore should be your own. Search engines’ responsibility is to its users first and foremost, and knowledge of this connection should instruct your decision making regarding your website and SEO. The more simply potential customers can access information, the more leads will be generated on your behalf. Think of your website’s relationship with Google as a partnership. You both must be aiming for the same goal if you’re to succeed.
301 Redirects vs. Canonicalization
People unfamiliar with website design often can’t tell the difference between 301 redirects and canonicalization. This confusion is understandable since the two concepts are similar in nature. 301 redirects denote a page as “moved permanently” and is orchestrated from the server side of the corresponding website. In contrast, canonicalization denotes a page as the “master copy” and can be performed on the HTML side of your site. The main difference between the two actions is that one involves movement, and the other does not.
Unsure which of the two techniques is applicable to your web page? The experts at HVAC Webmasters can audit your website and draw a conclusion as to which action would best suit your page’s search engine optimization. In addition to canonicalization and 301 redirects, we offer website design, organic SEO, and schema markup. Our team of web designers and search marketing experts are the best in the industry, and we’ve developed a great relationship with the HVAC community. Call (800) 353-3409 to get started today.