SEO: Rel=Canonical

Everything You Wanted To Know About Rel=Canonical


Big search engines such as Google and Yahoo first started supporting the rel=canonical tag in Feb 2009. In simple terms, it may be defined as a tag that is used by Google and other search engines to identify duplicate pages on a website for the search index. Many websites have some duplicate pages for some reasons, but search engines do not like duplicate pages, and this tag is a way to get rid of that problem.

If there are duplicate pages on your website, a simple line with this tag can be included in a webpage pointing to another page.

As far as using this tag is concerned, it is extremely easy. You need to put the following HTML on the top of the HEAD element of the web page that is not canonical pointing to a page that is canonical.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”Canonical page URL”>

This tag can also be set on non-HTML pages such as PDF and other such pages by using .htaccess or PHP.

As mentioned above, this tag is used by search engines to determine the master page. There are some misconceptions associated with the use of this tag. One of most common misconceptions is that this tag leads to the redirection of the page to the canonical version similar to the 301 redirect. However, that’s not true. This tag is only useful for search engines, but it does not result in any redirection of the page at the server level or affects the display. It is a hint to the search engines, and it is not essential for search engines to honor it though all the big search engines do honor this tag.

This tag should be used on all the duplicate pages, but it should be used only when two pages are same. In case two pages are similar, but they are not identical, it’s better to make changes to one of the pages to make them different instead of using this tag. However, it’s also an established practice to mark two pages as canonical even when they are not identical.

Do not make the mistake of pointing all the pages to the homepage. Some people make this mistake and pay the price. In most cases, it is right to use the tag on websites that generate dynamic URLs. It is also right to be used on various e-commerce websites as tens of different URLs can be generated from a single page by changing the filter criteria. Similarly, it is also great for syndicated content where publishers using someone else’s content may include this tag on their website with the pages pointing to the original document.

There are many cases in which using the 301 or 302 redirect makes much more sense than using this tag. Therefore, this tag should be used carefully to make sure that search engines have the right pages of your website in their index. In case you do not use it responsibly, it may hurt the ranking of your website in the search engine result pages.

If you’re still confused about the rel=canonical, then we recommend contacting a true expert on the subject: the Dallas SEO Geek.

Finding Profitable Keywords

Finding profitable keywords for your website isn’t the most glamorous part of SEO, but it’s by far the most necessary.  Keyword research is a dry, data driven task but it does provide a window into what your customers are looking for.  They’re the written evidence of  people’s curiosity and behaviours.

So how are the best keywords chosen?

It starts with having an idea of the general types of terms a potential customer is going to search for.  Here’s an example to demonstrate, pretend you’re a plumber in Miami, there will be some pretty obvious terms customers will use such as “plumbing repair Tampa”.   While that’s a decent keyword it’s also an inspiration for what we call “long tail keywords”.  Long tail keywords usually have fewer searches but are better at conveying buyer intent.  Using the plumbing example again a long tail keyword would be “best plumbing company in Miami”.

Finding Profitable Keywords

Why longtail keywords?

A couple of reasons, the first being that potential customers using longer phrases for search know exactly what they want and they’re pretty decisive about it.  Ultimately they generate better conversions.  If someone Googles the term “plumbing repair” you don’t know if they are looking for a plumber or instructions on how to fix their own plumbing.  On the other hand if someone Googles the term “emergency plumber Miami with 24hr service” they are looking for a plumber now.

The second reasons longtail keywords are so valuable is they are easier to rank and they have less competition.  It is far easier to rank three or four long tail terms than it is to rank for “plumber Miami”.  Since they often convey commercial intent and they are quicker and easier to show up in the search results for  longtails are the golden goose of keyword research.

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Coming up with longtail keywords.

To come up with a set of longtail keywords of your own there are a couple of ways to approach this, many SEO agencies will use paid tools to do keyword research.  This isn’t really necessary you can work without them and many keyword tools aren’t that great.  To do it on your own, take your smaller keywords “plumber Miami” and try and come up with about 20 different longtails a customer might use to do a search.  You can get some help or inspiration from the “related searches” found at the bottom of the results page.

Finding Profitable Keywords

Finding profitable keywords is the secret sauce to any SEO campaign and it’s a skill that every SEO agency should have in their arsenal of tools.  If you’re still stuck on finding longtail keywords here’s a video that uses the Google keyword planner to help you out.

Measuring the ROI of an SEO Campaign

Anytime you embark on an SEO campaign, you need to be able to measure the results, determine whether you time and money were being used effectively.  SEO is one of the most common methods of small businesses use to generate leads.  So how do you measure whether or not your SEO campaign is working for you?Measuring the ROI of an SEO Campaign

Here are four ways of measuring the ROI of an SEO campaign:

  1. Rising Organic Traffic

More traffic on your website is generally a good sign that your SEO is working, but where the traffic is coming from counts too.  It’s important to see whether the traffic is coming from people searching for your brand (the name of your company) or from search terms related to your business.  Here’s a real world example to demonstrate.  Say your company is Ray’s Roofing based out of Seattle.  Ranking for “Ray’s Roofing” are good but ranking for “roofing contractor Seattle” is much better.  These are what’s called nonbranded keywords and you can check your Google Analytics console to see which keywords or phrases are driving traffic.

  1. Increased Inbound Links

Inbound links are the heart and soul of SEO and an SEO company who understands how to build them properly is worth its weight in gold.  Everytime another website links to yours it’s like they are giving credit to your expertise…a vote of confidence.  Google takes these into account when determining where your website will end up on the search results page.

It’s important to remember that not all backlinks are created equally, in fact, far from it.  The best type of backlinks you want come from trusted authority sites that are relevant to your business.  Building quality backlinks isn’t easy and it should be done by a knowledgeable team who knows what they are doing.

  1. Increased Conversions

A conversion is when someone lands on your website and then takes the action that you want them to, that could be filling out a form or calling your business.  There are two important elements that will improve your conversion rates, the first is traffic.  Getting lots of traffic is great but you need the right kind of traffic, the kind that is actually looking for what you are selling.  The second element is your website, you need an optimized landing page on your website that will take that traffic and turn it into a lead for you.

  1. Most Importantly – The Bottom Line

Looking at conversion rates, building backlinks and measuring traffic are all important tools and the inner geek of every SEO guy loves that stuff, but that’s not why you hired them.  You hired them to increase your bottom line and that is the only metric that matters.  Having wonderful links and a beautiful website are irrelevant if your website isn’t generating income for you.  More money in your pocket is an excellent way of measuring the ROI of an SEO campaign.