Canonicalization – More than you ever wanted to know!

Can you say the word “Canonicalization” 3 times fast. Have you ever even heard this word before? Well, if you are a typical innkeeper, my guess is: Probably not!

So, if you’ve made it this far in this post, you are probably asking, “Why in the world are you Blogging on this topic?”

Well, it’s quite simple. I’ve asked Mark (our resident Chief Technical Officer and Guru) to address the following Tweet that was Posted earlier today.

“Part 2 of Canonicalization; Google says why you don’t want your site to show up under www.site.com, blog.site.com & site.com. Just 1 URL.”

Here is his reply…

The following article that Matt Cutts (Head of Google Spam) posted is regarding the topic of URL Canonicalization. You can read that article here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-url-canonicalization/

Canonicalization is the process Google uses to choose the best URL to index. An example is when a domain has generally the same number of links pointing to example.com and www.example.com. Google then needs to make a decision on which URL to index.

In this case it is recommended that a 301 redirect is setup so that example.com is pointed to www.example.com. If all of the links are to www.example.com then doing the 301 redirect of example.com to www.example.com probably will have little impact. It is generally a good idea to do the 301 redirect just to cover all the bases.

The topic of Canonicalization is not to be confused with the topic of Subdomains. Matt Cutts also wrote an article almost two years ago on the topic of “Subdomains vs. Subdirectories.” You can read that article here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/subdomains-and-subdirectories/

Ultimately, choosing to use blog.example.com or www.example.com/blog is really personal choice.

Even Matt Cutts has his own personal choice “My personal preference on subdomains vs. subdirectories is that I usually prefer the convenience of subdirectories for most of my content. A subdomain can be useful to separate out content that is completely different.” But keep in mind, personal choice is just that, personal choice.

Matt gives no indication that one way receives preferential treatment over the other in regards to SEO placement. It really depends on the configuration requirements. You can see in this article that Matt talks about how Google themselves use Subdomains. “Google uses subdomains for distinct products such news.google.com or maps.google.com, for example.”

Blogs are generally designed to be distinct from a web site.

A Web site’s content is about the product. So for most of our customers it is about their bed and breakfast and everything that makes it a great place to stay.

Blogs are usually not a continuation of more information about the bed and breakfast. Typical topics are about events in the area, attractions, nature topics such as leaves changing color, etc. That said, please note that using subdirectories for distinct content is not a bad thing. Putting a blog in a subdirectory is a common practice. But what you need to know is, either way works acceptably well.

So if your blog is in a Subdomain then leave it that way. And if your blog is in a Subdirectory then there is no reason so switch it either.

Finally, if Google did not like Subdomains then they would not be using them in their system.

Thank-you Mark for explaining this topic accurately and in a way anyone can understand!

Lisa Kolb
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.

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