Canonicalization can more than double the link love

You may be in a position to dramatically increase the effectiveness of inbound links to your web site in a few minutes by editing the .htaccess (Hypertext Access) file and specifying your URL.

Canonicalization is the process by which the search engines choose the best URL when there are several choices.

Several choices look like this:

Multiple URLs and duplicate content

The search engines see these all as unique URL’s. But, they also have the same content on them. So, you could be dividing and diminishing your link love and presenting duplicate content, which search engines penalize.

Canonicalization to the rescue

What if we could get everyone to link to just one URL and get the search engines to see just one URL? This would gather up the power of all the links and focus them on “one web site” rather than many and eliminate the duplicate content problem.

Modify the .htaccess file

For those using Apache, the answer is .htaccess file and mod_rewrite.

Sample text to include in the .htaccess file

Directoryindex index.php index.shtml index.html index.htm
Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^index.html index.php
RewriteRule ^([0-9A-Za-z_-]+).html index.php?page=$1
RewriteRule ^([0-9A-Za-z_-]+)/([0-9A-Za-z_-]+).html index.php?page=$1&subpage=$2

With Rewriterule on applied to non www —> —> – no action required.

With Rewriterule off —> —>

Multiple unique domain names can be eliminated by using the .htaccess file to canonicalize your URL’s. This eliminates the duplicate content problem and gathers up all of the inbound links pointed at your Home page and redirects them to one URL. This is awesome stuff!

More information

Hard core documentation from Apache
Google’s Matt Cutts offers his advice about canonicalization
Chris Hooley explains canonicalization