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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Canonical Tag Ends Dupe Content, Consolidates PageRank


Big News in an SMX West announcement by search engines last week! There is a new tag to place in the "Head" section of your web pages which can resolve forever the problem of duplicate content in search!

Something many SEO's have fought for years are things such as session ID's, tracking ID's, referrer tags, clickstream data, and variable formatting and source strings in URL's. As of this day in SEO history, those are no longer a problem.

Google's Matt Cutts, in the WebProNews video below announces that the three top search engines have each signed on to support the "Canonical tag" concept, which allows webmasters to post the canonical source for all potentially duplicated URL's. (Those URL's that vary, but produce the same content.)

That new magical tag (shown below) is a godsend for those of us who have fought for years against "Print page" URL variations, "Marketing tracking URL's," database strings which tell servers how to display everything from page formatting to custom logos and that dreaded "Session ID" problem.

I'd started to dread speaking with engineers and developers to request a new 301 redirect, and now I can simply ask for a site-wide application of this tag to tell search engines to redirect everything that varies that URL string.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://RealitySEO.com/” />

That way, if we have a marketing campaign running with an URL like this:

http://RealitySEO.com/?ref=blog&trackingid=9876&sessionid=654321

That Canonical tag above simply tells search engines to consolidate PageRank and more or less treat any variation in that URL with added appendages as a single headed beast, rather than the many headed Hydra it can turn into on some sites.

I intend on continuing the fight against splitting pagerank among many tracking coded URL's, but the search engines have just made it much easier to solve for this problem in cases where 301 redirects are not practical. Thank goodness for this little SEO godsend.

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