The Canonical Link Element
March 18, 2009
The search engines’ support of a new canonical link element made news last month when it was announced at SMX West. The tag allows webmasters to indicate the preferred URL of a page that has multiple URLs, saving them from the duplicate content issues that occur with tracking IDs and parameters. Bruce cautions that the tag is merely an extra measure and not a full solution. 301 redirects and other multiple URL best practices must be adhered to.
Vanessa Fox joins Virginia to explain how the canonical tag helps search engines, webmasters and users. As a former Google employee, Vanessa provided insight into what happens when the search engines collaborate on an initiative. She also shares news of an upcoming conference, O’Reilly Found, she is organizing with Nathan Buggia that is geared to educating developers on the technical issues related to SEO.
Finally, Bradley talks about his concerns with the canonical tag. While it can be a great tool for sites that are unable to create redirects on large sites, the tag should only be relied upon when all other alternatives have been exhausted. Similar to Matt Cutts suggestion at SMX West, Bradley recommends that mom-and-pop shops and the less-technical webmasters not try to edit their code themselves in order to avoid causing greater problems on their site.