Although it may sound like a big, scary jargon term, URL canonicalization is actually pretty simple.
Look at the top of your screen right now. There’s a bar with the address of the web page you’re looking at. That address is the URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. Don’t worry about what that means; just think of it like a street address for web pages.
Now, it’s possible to have several different URLs that all point to the same web page. However, this is bad for a couple of reasons, but mostly because search engines like Google don’t know whether these different URLs are pointing to the same web page or two duplicate pages. This can cause the page to drop in rankings, which equals lost traffic to your site and lost opportunities for your business.
Here’s an analogy. Let’s say you’re a candidate in an election, but your name is listed on the ballot more than once (e.g., Richard Jones and Richard M. Jones). You may get enough total votes to win the election, but still lose because those votes are divided between different variations of your name.
A web page works the same way when competing for high rankings in search engines. Links from other websites are votes, but links that use different URLs count separately. Ideally, each web page should have only one URL, and all links to that web page should use that same URL, so that it can rank as highly as possible.
That’s where URL canonicalization comes in. Think of it as standardization; you take many different variations of a URL and reduce them into a single standard form. The actual process may involve things like 301 redirects, canonical link tags, and changes to link architecture, but the end goal of URL canonicalization is always the same: One URL per web page.
To the average business owner, this may sound a tad confusing; however, the team at TheeDigital can help. Our experts (aka “nerds”) can help you understand the nuances of search engine optimization (SEO) and internet marketing.