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What are Canonicalisation Issues

Canonicalisation issues arise when you can access the same page using a number of URLs. For example, most people would consider these the same URLs:
www.mysite.com
mysite.com/
www.mysite.com/index.html
However all three URLs can be treated as being separate pages. A search engine could return completely different pages for the three above URLs. Having canonicalisation issues can hurt your search engine rankings as any incoming link to each URL would be treated separately, potential splitting your Page Rank among three URLs
So how can I stop the canonicalisation issues?
The first and easiest method is to make sure all your internal links are using the same style, if you start to use www.mysite.com, then continue using it throughout.
The second and slightly more complicated option is to tell your webserver which URL is your predominant choice. You can then create a 301 redirect (a permanent redirect to say this page has moved permanently). This means that if someone was to type in mysite.com they would be automatically redirected to www.mysite.com. This helps tell the search engines that this is your chosen URL.
To do this you need to create a file called .htaccess (that’s a file with no name and just an extension, seems strange but trust me!).
To create this file open a new notepad file and enter the following code;
Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^mysite.com [nc]
rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.mysite.com/$1 [r=301,nc]
All you need to do now to replace the reference’s to ‘mysite.com’ with your domain name, and save the file as .htaccess (that’s dot htaccess)
You now need to upload this to the root of your website, if you do not have FTP access to your website then contact your host and they will be able to show you how to upload the file.
Note* This .htaccess method of redirection works ONLY on Linux servers having the Apache Mod-Rewrite moduled enabled.
Neil Hancock is an e-Marketing Accounts Manager at Enigma Interactive, an award winning new media developer, specialising in web and multimedia development as well as offering a full e-Marketing service.

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