It’s more than likely that your Sitecore site has duplicate URLs that are affecting your website’s SEO performance right this very second, without you even knowing it.
If you're confused or in denial, you have a right to be.
What I'll be discussing in this blog is a typically overlooked technical SEO element called canonicalization, why you should be using canonical tags, and how you can easily implement canonical tags onto your site as a content author.
What is canonicalization?
Canonicalization as it pertains to SEO is a process for telling Google which page contains the master copy of the content, so Google will ignore other pages and only index the master version of the page.
The reason this is so important is that Google considers webpages as duplicates if their content is 85% identical, and duplicate content may significantly affect your SEO performance.
If you don’t specify to Google which page contains the master copy, Google might choose to index the incorrect page, which may not be the one that you want Google to display on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In some cases, Google might even consider duplicate pages as an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings and downgrade or even ban your site from search results.
How duplicate content is affecting your site
At this point you’re probably thinking, “well I don’t have any pages with duplicate content, guess this doesn’t affect me.”
What if I told you you're completely wrong?
Almost every site will have duplicate pages without you knowing it.
When Google refers to ‘pages’ this really means URLs and I can almost guarantee that your website is producing more than one URL per page.
Let’s look at some examples of common instances where you may have duplicate URLs being produced for each page.
Common duplicate URL scenarios
I could go on with examples but hopefully you get the picture!
While each of these URLs directs traffic to the same page, Google considers each URL as a separate 'page'.
Resolving duplicate content
To tell Google which URL is the master copy of the content, so it knows which page to index, add a tag called a “rel canonical tag” to every page on your site.
Here’s an example of what the tag looks like:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/example-page”/>
This tag should be added to every page, with the URL referenced in the href attribute, updated to the correct URL for that page.
If you're serious about SEO, every page on your site should have a canonical tag. And yes, most of the tags will be self referencing.
Creating canonical tags in your Sitecore instance
As a Sitecore content author it can be difficult for you to edit the source code of a website where you’d typically add the canonical tag.
Instead, you can ask your developer to add a field into your Sitecore instance like the one in this example here:
You can then add in the correct or ‘canonical’ URL for every page.
Have any questions about canonical tags in Sitecore? Please reach out to me on Twitter @natmankowski, I’m more than happy to answer any of your questions. In fact, it’s what I love doing.