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Conicalization – Avioiding Duplicate Content Issues

Posted by: admin  /  Tags: , ,  /  Comments: 103

Conical URLs

Often as SEO strategists, we run into sites that have a number of problems that inhibit forward momentum and prevent higher placement in search engines. Issues such as poor site structure, un-optimized title tags, non compliant HTML, broken scripts, non-functioning internal links and the absence of XML site maps are all too common issues for the majority of sites on the web. These are all easily fixable issues and it’s easy to understand why they would have a negative effect on placement, in the eyes of the search engines.


duplicate contentCanonicalization on the other hand, is an issue many seasoned web masters neglect, or seem to understand. Matt Cutts defines canonicalization as “the process of picking the best URL when there are several choices” (Matt Cutts, 2006). Even though a site owner may strive to develop original, engaging of copy, they still may be penalized for having duplicate content due to the absence of using simple 301 redirects. Although a sites homepage may appear the same to the human visitor, if it doesn’t redirect from “http://yourdomain.com” to “http://www.yourdomain.com (or vice versa), you’re most likely being charged with a duplicate content penalty. Examples of other homepage variants include, www.yourdomain.com, yourdomain.com, yourdomain.com/, www.yourdomain.com/index.html, www.yourdomain.com/home.asp and the list goes on and on. When Google attempts to index your site, they may be seeing many differently named homepages, all with the same content. These varients confuse the search engines and they become unsure as to which URL is the correct one to index. This throws up an immediate red flag to the search spider. In situations such as this, although the site owner has worked hard to post original content on their site, they may be still unknowingly penalized for duplicate content. In my opinion this is the fault of the search spider and it should be on the engines tab to correct their mistake. But until they do, there are workarounds to ensure the big G knows that you are not using duplicate content and thus, shouldn’t be penalized for it.

Through the use of an htaccess file (named .htaccess) placed in your top level directory, you can tell the spiders what and what not to index. This file enables the webmaster to use 301 redirects and 404 error pages to establish boundaries to the search engines. A solid htaccess file will ensure that the search engines aren’t charging you duplicate content penalties for your own, original content.

The situation gets even further complicated with the widespread deployment of content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Joomla. Often these CMS platforms inadvertently run rampid with duplicate content issues, due to their blog functionality. For this situation, there are a variety of plugins to help restrict duplicate content issues and prevent penalties.

103 Comments

Ron Tedwater

November 13, 2010

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Conicalization – Avioiding Duplicate Content Issues