Wordpress SEO – Canonical URLs | HTML CSS Tutor

WordPress SEO – Canonical URLs

by: Vivek Marakana

Hello I am going to teach a small part of wordpress search engine optimization (SEO) called canonical URLs. It will help you increase your site rank in at least google search engine.

Canonical URLs

Canonical URLs are URLs that are considered to be authentic and authoritative for a given resource. The word derives from the word canon, which describes law and genuineness. The problem with many blog platforms is that the same content often appears in different places on a site, with exactly the same presentation but an entirely different URL.

An example of this problem would be if I set up a site with the domain example.com. When I type http://htmlcsstutor.com into the browser address bar, it displays the same content as if I typed in http://www.htmlcsstutor.com.

Google and the other search engines have spent a tremendous amount of time and resources trying to ascertain authority of Web sites, Web pages, and content. To that end, content that is found in multiple places (for example, URLs with www as well as those without it) is treated as duplicate content and the version found to be non-authoritative is penalized. Site owners run the risk of being penalized by Google if their sites are considered spam (a verdict that is rare for most bloggers but exists nonetheless).

Canonical URLs redirects were added to WordPress in version 2.3 to help alleviate this problem. The added functionality has been hailed by Matt Cutts, the head of Web spam (the guy to shape the quality of search results and filtering spam from the Google index) as eliminating the problem of duplicate content as much as possible.

WordPress tries to eliminate all the potential duplicate content areas by consolidating content to a single URL. Using the WordPress Address and Blog Address settings defined in General Settings in conjunction with the settings defined in Permalink Settings, WordPress redirects traffic to any potentially legitimate location to the proper one.

Depending on your preference, you might want to set your Blog Address setting to use the www or the non-www version of the domain. Both are equally fine, so it is merely a personal choice. However, if you already have an existing site that has been indexed by the search engines, you can use some tactics to figure out which one is best for you.

Google Search Hack Scenario

Google provides a neat search “hack” that enables you to find out how many pages have been indexed for a given site. By prepending site: to a search and adding the domain name, it gives you a peek into how many pages Google knows about.

For example, in Figure 1, you can see that our university newsletter site, www.dduconnect.in, has at least 175 results for the non-www version of my domain.

non-www version result

Fig 1

But what happens, however, when the same search is done with the www version of my site? Instead of 175 results, there is no single result, as shown in Figure 2.

www version search result

Fig 2

Using Webmaster Tools for Canonical URLs

Google provides a suite of tools called the Google Webmaster Tools (www.google.com/webmasters/tools/). After some configuration and verification, you will be able to use the tools to get a high-level snapshot of how Google views your site as well as tell Google to specifically not index specific pages.

By using Google Webmaster Tools, you can extend the canonical URL functionality of WordPress by telling Google which version of the site to pay attention to and which part to ignore.

Steps for setting up proper canonical URL redirection

Now that you’ve decided which format of URL you want to be authoritative (say, the non-www version), you can get everything set up properly. To set up the proper URL redirection for your site, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress Admin.
  2. Click on the Settings menu or Expand the Settings menu and choose General.
  3. In the Blog Address field type your blog’s URL in the format http://htmlcsstutor.com.
  4. Click Save Changes.
  5. Log in to Google Webmaster Tools at www.google.com/webmasters/tools/.
  6. Click the plus sign next to Site Configuration to expand the Site Configuration menu.
  7. Click the Settings link.
  8. Under preferred domain, select the Display URLs as www.htmlcsstutor.com option.
  9. Click Save to complete the process.

After completing this process, your canonical URL problem is solved. You will see increment in search result in your site’s www version and increase your overall rank. So happy Optimizing…

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15 Comments on “WordPress SEO – Canonical URLs”

  • Other ways of wordpress SEO is to use social marketing..I am going to cover that sortly..

  • Anish says:

    Great and informative post! Easier and better way to enable canonical URLs is to install a SEO plugin like All in one SEO which would automatically do the canonical URLs automatically for you..

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