The Value of Canonical URL and Duplicate Content

The word CANONICAL has some weight to it, adding to the fact that it’s used as a prefix for another term which is CANONICAL URL. But what does this really mean, or rather what does CANONICAL have to do with links on the Internet?

By definition, CANONICAL means “required by canon regulation” or “something that can be broken down to conformance with guidelines or conditions”. It can also be defined as a recognized authority on something. In the case of canonical URLs, canonical refers to any URL that’s recognized or appropriate.

Let’s remember what the early days of the Internet were like. Back to the time when internet service providers were the only ones capable of interlinking content between different network types. Imagine having a file provided by your ISP and then having no less than two of the same files with different names but posted on the same date as the original. This would be confusing for anyone because they wouldn’t know which file was the right one. They’d want a canonical document so they don’t have to download the wrong one.

Let’s take another step forward. We now look at the term CNAME and this comes up every time we decide on establishing a domain name. CNAME is the acronym for Canonical name and developing a CNAME document to connect to your domain name would equate having www.newwebsite.com as the canonical name for www.oldwebsite.com.

But let’s get one thing straight here. CNAME is not an accepted or official Internet term like DNS or URL. Instead, it’s more used in the vernacular of Internet marketing and web development.

Why is the Canonical URL so important?

Google initially designed to make canonical URLS known to the web designers around the world, but it’s really challenging for the search engine like Google’s to decide on which URL is right if ever it encounters the same or close to comparable piece of content with two different URLs. Think of it this way. It’s like having someone read your thesis papers without the file prefix DRAFT and FINAL, so they don’t know which one is which. But online search engines can’t make judgment calls like that, and still they try to stay correct almost all of the time.

Today, we see a lot of websites that generate a lot of URLs and it becomes difficult to establish canonical URLs. When the same material is offered by two different URLs, this is now what’s referred to as duplicate content and search engines like Google decided that they don’t really appreciate duplicate content, so the rankings of these pages with duplicate content are terrible. I don’t even now the exact reason why they don’t rate very well, but I can only guess why are rated the way they are:

  1. It all boils down to relevancy. When you have one website with just one content, the relevancy and authority are extremely high, making it valuable to the search engines. But when you have 5 different websites with the same content, the relevancy and authority are divided.
  2. It can also be an indication of reduced quality. A bunch of websites with endless web links like blog archines and schedules will not be valuable to search engines, contrary to what others think about putting more links in your website. Pages that often create duplicate content within the blog are also devalued the same way as the same content is found in 5 or 6 different websites. Simply put, Google and other search engines don’t want to fill up a SERP (search engine results page) with the same website’s links. That’s just selfish.
  3. Duplicate content can be the same as filling up the SERP with the same website links, only this time it’s 10 different pieces of websites with the same content.
  4. Take note that these are all speculation and in no way authoritative when it comes to search engine rankings. No one knows why search engines rank the way they do, so let’s just leave it at that.

    Duplicate content can hurt your site and it’s not exactly something that you want when you’re going for rankings in your website. But in the event that your website’s content happens to be duplicated, here’s how you can deal with them:

    1. Make use of 301 Permanent redirects. The condition code 301 is returned with a brand new area when a request is produced by the URL.
    2. Canonical links can make use of tiny HTML tags that are found in your website’s header and contains the list of wanted canonical URLs for that page.

    You can pick any of these choices, but they will rely on the situation. Having two web pages with the same content or a different view of the same content will work with canonical URLs. This makes it easy for Google and other search engines to distinguish that both of these websites are not duplicate.

    Canonical URLs in DNN

    DNN is a CMS(content management system) with dynamically generated material, so there’s a higher chance of creating duplicate content when you create the same page with the following URLs:

    1. example.com/.
    2. www.example.com/default.aspx.
    3. example.com/home.aspx.
    4. www.example.com/home/tabid/56/default.aspx.

    They could all point to the same material and content like these are duplicates with changeable URLs created by a third party content module, so you end up having thousands of duplicate URLs in a DNN site.

    This is nothing new and DNN has had several uses that combats duplicate content and its related issues. The most evident problem is having your site distinguished with both www.example.com and example.com. This is what it looks like when you have different variations of the same domain name pointed at your website, and this is what a lot of people do.

    In DNN, you can establish your website’s pen names or domain name to be either a main domain name or a canonical domain name. The 301 redirect key will then be issued for every other canonical name. this will allow your visitors to be redirected to the main website if they use the canonical links. Take note that you have to specify the primary domain name from the alternate ones. Some marketers prefer to use http://www.thisformat.com as their website’s primary domain name, but others just work with www.thisformat.com or simply thisformat.com. depending on how they value their rankings and domain name. the more authoritative a domain name sounds, the more the format plays a crucial role.

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