Canonical Tags

It’s difficult enough to say, let alone understand - but getting your head around canonical tags in SEO is a must if you want your website to achieve the results you're looking for. Today we're going to take a look at what canonical tags are and why you should care about them.

So, what are Canonical Tags? 

In SEO and website design terms, Canonicalization means you have more than one URL address on the same page. For instance:

designer-websites.co.uk
www.designer-websites.co.uk
www.design-websites.co.uk/home

All three of these URLs will be pointing to your homepage, but the search engines will view these as different pages, indexing each page and allowing them to compete against one another. What’s the issue you might say, well the problem is that this generates duplicate content in the Google search engine results (SERP’s), which Google heavily penalises. This, in turn, means that your pages will likely be pulled from the search engine results, or will be pushed back in the SERP’s, leaving your site out in the cold.

This is where the canonical tag becomes important. Canonical tags are a piece of code you add on certain pages of your website to tell search engines which page is the prefered content. So, in this circumstance, you should choose one of these URLs to add a rel=canonical tag and add appropriate 301 redirects to the other pages. We recommend using both of these methods. 

Why is duplicate content bad for SEO?


Search engines aim to provide the most relevant content to a search query, so when they come across two pages which are exactly the same they are forced to choose one over the other, as displaying both would represent a flaw in their service. Google typically ignores the duplicate content to avoid the SERPs looking clutted with the same content on similar URLs. Sometimes choosing one is not realistic or possible and so a penalty is placed on the website or page in question. This is obviously an issue for SEO as duplicate content will inevitably lead to some of your pages disappearing from the index.

Make sure you define your canonical URL

The canonical tag (rel=canonical) allows you to dictate which URL the search engines should consider the ‘master copy’, the one you wish all SEO benefits to revert to. This canonical tag is placed in the HTML header text similar to the meta description and meta keywords tags:

<meta name="description" content="Site Description/>
<meta name="keywords" content="Site Keywords" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.designer-websites.co.uk/" />

It is important to understand that this simply informs the search engine bots of your preference, but it does not actually redirect the content, thus a human will be able to see the content via the canonical URLs if you do not force a redirect. This can sometimes lead to links being developed to URLs that you do not want to be indexed.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, allowing you to move one URL to another automatically. So, for example, if you try going to http://designer-websites.co.uk it will automatically redirect you to the proper url which is http://www.designer-websites.co.uk.

A 301 redirect should be done from the webserver and not in code. Setting up a redirect is relatively easy but often done incorrectly.  It is imperative that the ‘status code’ sent to the search engine bots upon redirection is a 301, not a 302 or any other code. 

Can I still just use a 301 redirect?

Yes, you can. In fact, the safest way to deal with the canonical issue is to have appropriate 301 redirects in place for your website.

However, the reason we recommend having both is because some search engine bots will actually look for the canonical tag, so having it there deals with the issue quickly and in the exact way the bots are looking for. If a search engine does not look for the canonical tag then at least you have the redirect to fall back on. Most importantly if you 301 redirect properly then no one will be able to see your content under any other URL than the one you choose.

It's important to understand that there are many search engines on the Internet and not all are as sophisticated as Google, so it is safe to assume that not all search engines are sophisticated enough to work with canonical tag, so by not 301 redirecting your URLs properly you run the risk of other search engines issuing duplicate content penalties and the like.

This and many other website optimisation factors are essential for successful websites. At Designer Websites, we will ensure your new website is properly 301 redirected and contains the appropriate canonical tags, as well as dealing with many other technical SEO factors. For examples of our work just click here

We recently launched a refreshed looking website for Liberty Marketing. We initially created a small business website for the online marketing agency a while back and although the site still functioned well and ranked high in the search engines, the guys felt it was time for a facelift and they also wanted to refocus their core solutions by adding new content to the site. We developed a new design and implemented the changes and now the Cardiff online marketing agency has never looked better.

Visit Wales' largest online marketing services agency

Lovingly Managed offer a unique service, which offers a range of services which help people plan/manage their or a loved one’s end of life. We have recently launched their brochure site with a content managed system within the site which easily allows the site to be updated with news and announcements relating to Lovingly Managed. The informative site gives in-depth information of various ways in which the business can help ease the burden at an emotional time.

Visit the website to find out how Lovingly Managed could help you.

There is absolutely no point having a website no one is going to be able to find. You could have a fantastic business plan, a market which is just ripe for the plucking, and the world’s most gorgeous website. That’s all well and good but how do your customers find you on the web.

What do you mean you’re on page 34 of Google? I’m not going to scroll through 34 pages to find your company, when there are hundreds of other reputable providers who can offer a similar product or service. So as a company, you need to make sure your website ranks highly on the internet search engines to bring in the targeted traffic; and here’s how you do it.

Write good content

Good website content is crucial for any well ranked website. It must be appropriate not just to the website, but also the specific page you’re targeting. Keywords: make sure they are placed in the correct places and throughout the body copy of the document. This alone will help your ranking over time.

Persistent content

Keep the site updated with fresh and relevant content. Whether you do this by updating pages regularly, such as blogs, news or an events section, or with the addition of features such as calendars, forums or newsletters; it is up to you.

Keep site navigation simple

Through a combination of menus, sub menus, a site-search function and ideally a form of site map, your site viewers must be able to access the content they’re looking for quickly. A general rule of thumb is that users should be able to access the content they want within three clicks. Otherwise they are likely to become frustrated and leave.

Give users what they want

Does your site contain all the information your users are likely to need? For example, if you owned a local takeaway, why not look into having an online menu and perhaps an online booking system? Maybe even a newsletter or a Twitter feed to keep your customers informed of any promotions you might have on.

Regularly review your site

Customers’ tastes change all the time and as new technologies become more readily available it is advised to adapt the website to reflect these changes. Mobile browsing has been on the increase for some time and is looking like a new technology which is here to stay. Developing a mobile friendly site will help you get ahead of your competition. 

Here at Designer Websites we use our mix of technical expertise and commercial know-how, providing you with elegant, functional websites, which can be fully optimised for search engine success. Call us now on 0845 272 6813 to take things further.

When your website is all built and raring to go; that’s the first step. Now you’ve got to think about promoting your website so that it enjoys a fair share of the traffic in your market place.

Sooner or later, as long as your website is coded correctly, the web spiders will come crawling and shortly after, you will start appearing in the all important search results. Initially you will probably only show for very specific searches such as your company name; however, this is likely to only offer a very slight benefit to your business.

If this is the case, how do you ensure your website is noticed by people who are not already aware of your business?

1. Content... Content... Content!

You (hopefully) know a lot more about your industry than the average person. Use this position to your advantage. Be the expert. Spread the news – whatever it maybe; whether it’s interesting developments and innovations in the industry, or the launch of special offers, new products and free trials. Whatever it is, tell them about it, and put your own interesting slant or twist on the story to show exactly how it applies to your company.

You can also put up a question and answer session on your website. It may take a little bit of time to administer, but this will help you connect with your customers and again provide invaluable content to keep those web spiders well fed. You should also contribute to forums or submit articles to the numerous article directories – wherever you can share your knowledge and start to get your name and website known.

2. Write using keywords

When writing all of this content, the best way to ensure the promotion is a success is to use keywords. The content on web pages needs to be keyword rich, i.e. have the keywords in all the important locations and in the right quantity.

This is something we can advice on further if needed, though as a starting point you need to ensure that the phrases you are targeting appear in your page titles, your meta description, your main heading, subheadings and then throughout the page a number of times.

3. Build links

Think of your website in the same way as you think of businesses in the real world. Unless someone is willing to recommend a company to you then you often will not consider spending your money with them. The internet is similar, in that unless a website enjoys good link popularity then it will not be taken that seriously by the search engines. Link building is a huge topic and there are hundreds of different types of links and thousands of ways to get them, but the easy quick wins include persuading your partner businesses and suppliers to place a link from their site to yours. You should also look for general and industry-specific directories that will allow you to place a listing and a link to your site. Doing so will help the search engines find your site more often and consider it a more valuable resource.

Designer Websites is a lot more than your average website development team. We care about the success of your business so make sure that not only is your website search engine optimised, but you are aware of the best ways to build traffic and enjoy search engine success. If you want the help of a team of talented website designers who mix technical expertise with commercial know-how, then call Designer Websites on 0845 2726813 now.