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What is a canonical issue and how to fix a canonical issue.

June 5th, 2008 by Heather Rhoades

Do you know what a canonical issue is?

If you are relatively savvy about SEO, you know that your site should have a robots.txt, a human site map and a sitemap.xml. These are considered to be basic elements that you add to a site for SEO purposes. But did you know that you also need a canonical redirect?

Fixing canonical issues is important. A canonical issue can wreak havoc on your site in the search results. It can cause the search engines to penalize your site and remove pages from your site from the results. And all it takes is a simple oversight on your part with your site.

Is your site susceptible to a canonical issue?


When we talk about canonical issues, what we mean is does your site properly handle www versus non-www URLs. As a quick test, type http://yoursite.com into the browser. Be sure to leave off the www. Does the URL redirect to the www version? If not, you are susceptible to a canonical issue. (Unless you choose to display your site without the www, in which case, the site should redirect the www to the non-www version)

Search engines have a hard time understanding that http://yoursite.com and http://www.yoursite.com are the same thing. To a search engine, these two URLs look like two different sites that have exactly the same content, which they then penalize. This situation can be easily avoided by using a canonical redirect.

Learn how to fix a canonical issue.

Fixing canonical issues means that you do a canonical redirect so that if someone (search engine or human) tries to go to the wrong version of your URL, they will be redirected to the correct version.

We have an excellent tutorial here on how to fix a canonical issue on a Windows server. For a Unix server, fixing canonical issues is normally done with an .htaccess.

Using a canonical redirect will help your site avoid having unnecessary problems. Fixing canonical issues is easy and should be a standard part of all sites.

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2 Responses to “What is a canonical issue and how to fix a canonical issue.”

  1. Convurgency Inc Says:

    After panda updates its quite important to know whether your website has any canonical issues or not. When your website is serving the same content with different url with www and non www version then Google can consider it as duplicate content to avoid this issue we must solve this issue by placing canonical tags.

  2. Heather Says:

    Yes, you are absolutely right. Canonical issues cause duplicate content, which is targeted by Panda. Thanks for contributing!

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