Can you load your homepage using both formats without your browser displaying only one?

 

www.yourdomainhere.com    yourdomainhere.com

Do you have a canonicalisation issue?

What does that mean and should you be concerned?

 

Some will argue that this is a minor issue and it’s not the secret to increased rankings. To some extent they are right but it is important to make sure that you take care of this issue especially if you have a well-established website that has a strong mature link profile.

This could be diluting your websites authority as you may have acquired links to both versions of your homepage. In turn this will cause your authority and ranking power in the eyes of Google to be lower.

In order to demonstrate this I have taken a website that I have looked at recently and I know loads on both versions without any sort of redirect (the URL is blacked out in order to protect the websites identity). I ran both versions through www.opensiteexplorer.org, which is Moz’s own link profile analysis tool. They have their own index and give websites their own Page Authority and Domain Authority scores, which is very useful as it gives you a rough idea of how Google sees your website.

WWW.

none WWW.

It is clear from the above screenshots that both versions of the homepage have different links pointing to them and because of this they both have different levels of Page Authority. In order to fix this issue you need to look at pointing the two pages URLs at one with a 301 redirect. This won’t double your Page Authority score but it will impact on the Page Authority and it is likely to cause an increase. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that tells Google and other search engines that the content on the URL you are redirecting now has a new permanent location. Similarly this is important for all sites as you are likely to gain links to both versions of your site as your presence matures and you gain links.

 

Effectively, by not using a 301 redirect you have two different versions of your homepages in the eyes of Google (and less successful search engines). Not Good!

 

Remember it is really important to make sure that your website has all the basics in place in order to help it rank well. When Google bot crawls your site you don’t want it to be making the decision as to what content it thinks is the most relevant if there are duplicates. You also don’t want it to waste time on duplicate pages as this is taking up time it could be using to visit or revisit unique content.

 

How do I use a 301 redirect?

You may want to ask your developer or other technical support for assistance with this, alternatively you might be confident enough to tackle this simple fix yourself. The first thing you need to find out is whether you are using an Apache server or an IIS Server to host your website.

If you are using an Apache Server you can create a 301 redirect by doing the following:

  • Log on to your webserver using an FTP client such as Filezilla.
  • Locate your .htaccess in the root folder of your website and download it.
  • Open your .htaccess file by right clicking on it and selecting open with notepad.
  • Insert the following lines of code:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.com [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301]

(note: replace yourdomain with your actual website domain name).

Upload this file and overwrite your old .htaccess

 

**If there are already some other redirects in this file and the rewrite engine has already been initiated then you don’t need to include “RewriteEngine On” again.**

 

For IIS 7 Server you will want to do the same but locate the web.config file and enter the following code into it:

<configuration>

<system.webServer>

<rewrite>

<rules>

<rule name=”Redirect to WWW” stopProcessing=”true”>

<match url=”.*” />

<conditions>

<add input=”{HTTP_HOST}” pattern=”^yourdomain.com$” />

</conditions>

<action type=”Redirect” url=”http://www.yourdomain.com/{R:0}”

redirectType=”Permanent” />

</rule>

</rules>

</rewrite>

</system.webServer>

</configuration>

 

302 Redirects – All Redirects Aren’t Created Equally!

 

Another issue that relates to this is the use of 302 redirects rather than 301 redirects. 302 redirects are temporary and are taken as such by Google. This means that if you have some pages that have links pointing at them and they are being redirected using the 302 directive you won’t be gaining any potential authority benefit from links that are pointing at the redirected page. Make sure all your redirects are setup correctly and work.

 Googles Information on 301 Redirects – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/93633

This is the first in a series of posts that are going to look at getting the basics in place for your website and overcoming problems that websites often have without even realising that they are potentially hindering their rankings.