Recently, I had a client who was using different URLs of the same websites for his internet marketing strategy, including PPC campaign etc and as you know these days the SEO clients have first-hand knowledge of SEO and they understand such things could be a potential issue in their SEO campaign, and for the same reason, when this client asked me how to get over with this issue and what’s the best practice in SEO for using multiple pages of the same version of a domain, the only answer I had was the canonical URL tag use.
What is a Canonical URL tag?
Introduced by all search engines (Google, Yahoo & MSN) together in early 2009, a canonical URL tag is a tag code that you place in your HTML source of your page that tells Google and other search engines that this page is an identical copy of the URL placed in that tag. What this means exactly is that Google will not consider it as a duplicate page and this page will not be ranking well as compared to its canonical URL in Google. Simply put this gives an indication to Google about your preferred version of the similar content pages on the same domain.
Here is the canonical tag code,
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.seojunky.com/test-site.php” />
So where do you place canonical URL tag in your code? Normally the canonical URL tag is placed in your <head> section of the duplicate content URL.
Canonical URL Tag vs a 301 redirect?
Why to use a canonical URL tag?
If you are using multiple pages of duplicate content on your domain for whatever reason (print version, a copy for PPC, or a different URL as your landing page), the best practice to follow is placing a canonical URL tag, as this tag tell search engines that you are not trying to duplicate different URLs and hence reducing the quality of your website due to repeated content, but rather, you are using these pages for certain purposes for your own internet marketing strategy. This way, search engines have to worry no longer on which page is the “real” page. So, instead of leaving a search engine to decide which of these multiple duplicate content pages needs to be indexed properly, you make this decision by putting canonical URL tag and making things clear and smooth.
Canonical URL tag fair usage policy and SEO best practice: