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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Canonical URL Link Element - Not Meta Tag


Last week we learned of the magical new Link Element which was announced at SMX West which was purported to resolve a longstanding problem with duplicate content by pointing search engines to a single URL for pages which could have multiple paths to the same content.

Well it turns out that the single solution is only a partial solution. According to the video below from Matt Cutts, we should still do all we can to avoid internal links with session ID's, sort order, path analysis and tracking parameters appended. Damn, can't be simple solutions that resolve it all.

It turns out that the search engines will just "prefer" your canonical tag as the single source and "favor" it as the most important ... and they "reserve the right" to do what seems most appropriate, regardless of your link element tags. Damn!

Well I guess a little help is better than none. I've recommended the tag heavily to everyone while trailing around party balloons and confetti. Now I gotta go back and say, "Well, go ahead and do what I told you, just don't expect it to completely solve your problems and - by the way - ya still gotta do the 301 redirects and consistent linking and everything we did before."

Here's Matt Cutts with the news that - not only won't this magical tag solve our problems, but we also have to be careful how we use it and make certain those tags all use absolute URL's and not relative URL's.

So really, this is just something we should adopt as a best practice for SEO and then keep fighting the good fight for 301's and consistent linking practices. Hmmm. Glad I fought for an application which does internal redirects while tracking URL's before this whole thing came up. :)

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