‘Canonicalisation’ is a term you’ll often hear bandied around the net. If you’re on top of your site’s search engine optimisation, chances are your on-site canonicalisation problems are sorted. But what about your off-site ones?

What SEOs are usually referring to when they’re talking about canonicalisation is keeping URLs straight. Google guru Matt Cutts recently explained that when the search engine is trying to choose between multiple URLs for a page, one ultimately comes out the winner. This can be a bit of a problem for sites that have undergone remodelling, as old URLs could still turn up in Google’s listings. It’s a problem even if you have the same content on every version of the site, because some search engines split authority between the pages.

SEO: Not everything’s about your web pages

There are other forms of canonicalisation that don’t involve your URLs. Take your business information, for instance. If you’re like most businesses, you started submitting to directories from the moment you launched your site. Over the years, the information given to such directories evolves. Eventually you end up with different information all over the net.

There are two main areas you need to worry about when you’re trying to standardise off-site information:

  • Directories – hunt down all the listings you have and standardise
  • Social profiles – if you can, go back and alter user names and profile information to match across all sites.

To keep your customers from confusion, and to consolidate your online presence, remember: canonicalisation isn’t just an on-site issue.

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