Introduction to SEO Canonicalization

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process which affects the visibility and traffic of the web page in search engines like Yahoo, Bing and Google etc.
Read Introduction to SEO before this article.


Canonicalization for SEO means normalizing (redirecting to single dominant version from multiple URLs).

A Canonical page is the preferred URL of a set of pages with highly similar content. 

For Example: On women clothing site, products page might display sorted in brand type, while other pages display the same products listed by price, color, or rating.

Preferred Version/Preferred Domain

The preferred domain is the one; you would like to index your site’s page. In fact, preferred domain is the version you want to be used for your site in search results.

Note: If you see a message that your site is not indexed, it may be because it is indexed under different domain.
The choice between www and non-www has no impact on your site’s SEO. Once we have set a preferred domain name we use that information for all future indexing and crawl. If you don’t specify preferred version, search engines may treat www and non-www versions as separate references to separate pages.

What does preferred domain have to do with SEO?

  • To avoid duplicate contents.
  • Links are built only to the preferred domain.
  • To avoid misinterpretation of site’s indexing.
  • Double the power of back links.
How to set preferred domain?
  1. First of all login to Google Webmaster Tools account and select a site which you want to set a preferred domain.
  2. Click the site sittings option available under gear icon located at top right corner. 
  3. In preferred domain section select the one among three options:
    • Don’t set a preferred domain.
    • Display URLs with WWW.
    • Display URLs without WWW.
You need to verify the ownership of both WWW and non-WWW versions of your domain, because setting preferred domain impacts both indexing and crawling.

If both versions are pointing to same sever then once you verify one version, second version will get auto verified by adding in webmaster tools.

301 Redirect

There are two main methods for managing the redirection of single page on your website – the 301 redirect and rel=”canonical” attribute to conquer duplicate content issues, sustain ranking of site and improve user experience.

If you need to change the URL of page as it is shown in search engines results, we recommend that you use a server side 301 redirect. This is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to correct page.
301redirect are used in following circumstances:
  • If you have moved your site to new domain and you want to make the transition as seamless as possible.
  • People access your site through several URLs then it’s a good idea to pick one of those URLs as your preferred destination and use 301redirect to send traffic from other URLs to your permanent URL.


Hopefully now you have better clarity on the basics of SEO – canonicalization and its uses in marketing world of Internet. 

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About the Author

Full Name: Korada Madhusmita
Member Level: Starter
Member Status: Member
Member Since: 1/27/2014 3:02:13 AM
Country: India

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