Canonical Issues to Avoid (Analytics SEO Request)

By | September 1, 2019

Hi, I’m Mike Essex, the Online Marketing Manager
here at Koozai, and today I’m going to answer a question from the community,
from Stephen Lock of Analytics SEO. Stephen asks, “What are the
most annoying canonical issues you’ve ever seen?” Now, if you work in SEO
for even a day, you’re going to see some pretty annoying canonical issues,
and these are just three of the worst offenders in my opinion. Now for those who don’t know what a canonical
issue is, it’s when you’ve got content that exists in multiple locations,
either on your website or on multiple websites. The problems this can cause
is that the search engines don’t know which version of the content to
index, and they may pick the wrong one or they may pick somebody who’s
taken your content and put it elsewhere. So mopping up these issues is very
important. How do you do that? Well, by adding nofollow
tags to block off content that you don’t want the search engine spiders
to get to, or by using redirects to say this is the correct content.
You can also use canonical tags to say, “Actually, Google, ignore this
version and focus on this version.” So those three issues solve most
of the problems. However, one of the main issues of this is
that each website doesn’t have an unlimited amount of time from Google or
Yahoo or Bing. The problem is that the search engine spider doesn’t have
all the time in the world to look at your website. So what that means is
it will only view you as many pages as the time dictates that it has. So
if it’s stuck in a loop because of canonical issues, it’s missing out on good
content that you want it to crawl. So you need to resolve those issues. Now, if you got one of these three, you need
to get on it straightaway, because these are typically horrible. If you
run any spidering software on a site with these, it’ll usually break or
never finish the function. So galleries are first up, and the main problem
with this is a lot of galleries have a page with a hundred images
on it. Then they’ll also break those images down into category and sub-category
pages, and maybe people can rate the images at five stars. They’ll
group them by that. Then they might group them depending on the product
that they relate to. The problem is that you’ve then got one image that appears
on 20 separate different pages. It’s the exact same image, it hasn’t
changed, and the search engines, it can look like you’re trying to
game the system by having all these pages of the same image over and over
and over. So what you need to do is block off any of
these subcategory pages from the search engines and just say to the search
engine, “All the content you need is actually on this one main gallery page.
Just index that and you’ll be fine, and don’t worry about these other ones.”
If the other ones are a little bit redundant then just get rid of
them altogether and redirect them back to the main gallery. So that’s that one. Then e-commerce. So a problem here is that
you’ve already got thousands of products, so you’re already short on time
as it is. Don’t make that worse by then adding that product into all sorts
of different sections. So if you’ve got a book, don’t add it to an adventure
category and an action category, books under $2.99 section, top 100
books, top 20 books in action. All you’re doing is just saying, “Hey, here’s
the same book. It’s the exact same book you’ve already crawled 20 times
today, Google. Here it is again.” Those pages are good for users, yes, absolutely,
but there’s no reason for the search engines to see the same book over
and over. Again, block those sections off. Use canonical tags to say actually,
this is where you want to go for the book information, ignore these
other pages. Now if you’re Amazon – and Amazon’s terrible
for this, they’ve got about 100 different pages for each product – you’re
probably going to get away with it because you’ve got a lot of time for
this search engine spider to look at your website because you’re Amazon.
If you’re a small e-commerce website with hundreds of products, you need
all the time you can get. So don’t make it worse with issues like this. Last of all we’ve got blogs. Now, if you’ve
got a WordPress blog or a Blogger blog, you’ve already got 20 canonical
issues as soon as you take it out of the box, and that causes problems.
For example, if you write a blog post on WordPress, not only does it have a
page for the blog post itself, you’ve also got a page for the comments, the
attachments, the RSS feed for that individual blog post, any category pages
that it’s in, any tags that you’ve used. The author bio page will have
a list of all those posts. It’s just redundant content over and over and over
that isn’t needed. Again, these sections, most of them are of
no use for readers either. A list of items by the author, great. But a
lot of the other ones, a list of comments on a separate RSS feed, there’s just
no need. The comments are on the blog post. That’s good enough. So redirect
all these pointless extra elements back to the main blog post, which
is what you want to get indexed at the end of the day. If you don’t do that, I’ve had issues before,
where instead of the blog post being indexed, just one single image
from that blog post has got indexed, which is just pointless. So you really
need to consider these issues. The bigger the website, the harder
it is to fix these issues, but the more of them you’re going to have and
the more important it is that you do it. We write about these kinds of issues a lot
on the Koozai blog as well. So visit for more information. You
can also use our Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube profiles to learn more
about what we do or to ask a question for a future video, if there’s anything
you’d like to know.

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