Understanding Canonicalization
& How It Affects Link Building

In this article, we will discuss what is canonicalization, why it can affect your website’s SEO ranking, and how to solve this easily.

When there is more than one article (posts) with the same exact text and content existing in more than one URL location on the web, Google will automatically index it as duplicate content. Let’s say you posted the same content on two pages or posts. One of those two pages, for example, has to be the original copy and the authority page, otherwise, it is deemed as duplicates and you’ll receive a penalty. When Google indexes the site it becomes problematic because it is trying to determine which of the two or more pages is considered the authority page.

Now it also gets complicated when that content gets posted on another website or blog. It also becomes more complicated when you registered a domain with more than one URL. Notice the various ways we can register a single domain in Google webmasters in the example below:


Therefore, Google has to determine which of these four URLs is the main source or authority page of that content.

Canonicalization is the process of choosing the best URL when more than one original content exists in multiple URLs.

Most website owners won’t know and understand this, except when they are trying to rank higher in search rankings.

Again, all major search engines (SEs) will encounter canonical problems when more than one content exists on multiple URLs and multiple pages like the one above. All these pages are the same page – but with to the search engines they all can be seen as individual pages – indexed separately.

Canonicalization Problems

Duplicate Content: Search engines detect duplicate content
The unique content that is supposed to be on one page appears to be duplicate content and SE’s must decide which page is the Authority Page.

Link Equity:

When SE’s detect duplicate content, you’ll essentially lose that page’s Link Equity by diluting the links pointing to it, and results in splitting the Link Equity to multiple URL’s.

25% going to http://domain.com
25% going to http://www.domain.com
25% going to www.domain.com
25% going to www.domain.com/html

It weakens the site content due to splitting up the link juice going in four difference directions and becomes less authoritative which affects “Search Engine Ranking Pages” or SERP’s.

Page strength is diluted by having an incomplete count on total link juice.

How to Resolve Canonical Issues

– Use “301 Redirects” to resolve canonical problems
– Standardize the linking process by focusing on only one URL that you want to rank for

Step One: 301 Redirects
Send a command to your server that says “If this old URL is like this”, then redirect permanently to this URL.

301 Redirects Results
SEs that spider and index that old page gets redirected via the 301 Redirect that the old page no longer exists; and its new URL location is relocated here.

As SEs update their indexes to reflect the 301 Redirects, your page content will be unique and has all intended links pointing to one location.

How to Setup a 301 Redirect

#1a Make a backup of your WordPress files or data
#1b Access your WordPress “.htaccess” file (w/o an extension)located using a Ftp program such as Filezilla.
#2 Download the .htaccess file on your computer
#3 Open the text file with Notepad or equivalent
#4 Modify and add the following script

[Sample Script]
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Note: To ensure you’re redirecting properly – always test the link. Check the server headers to make sure the proper status code is returned.

Recently Google, Bing, Yahoo, Live and Ask have standardized on a new “Canonical HTML Tag”
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/page.html”/>


SEO Ranking,