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What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL

What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL

What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should
Canonicalize Your URL

When learning how to best optimize your website for search engines, there seem to have a new jargon or buzzword created every few months and is thrown at you expecting you to understand what it means.

One of the SEO buzzwords we’re looking at today is “Canonicalization”. While this jargon isn’t exactly new, it’s definitely a bit of a mouthful. In plain English, good canonicalization means search engines crawl more pages of your site. You’d want that to happen very much if you’re thinking of ranking high on Google or bringing massive traffic to your site.

Some of you might have heard of this before but don’t know what it means, some of you know what it means but do not know how to use it and others might not even seen this word before. Regardless of your level of knowledge on Canonicalization, you should read on to fully understand what this means and how it affects your SEO.

Since early 2009, all major search engines has supported the canonical tag. However, not many web developers or users do canonicalization on their URLs despite it’s benefits. This can be due to the lack of knowledge regarding canonical tags, its benefits or how to use it.

What Are Canonical Links?

Nope, not these can(n)ons.

Search engines like Google work by “crawling” through an enormous list of websites, analyzing the content on the page, and then categorizing the results through a cross-referenced database of variables like the website’s URL and date of last modification for rapid turnaround times on any query entered into the engine.

A canonical link is a special designation slipped into the code of a web page to indicate that another page should be considered the origin of the information when the search engine displays the findings to the user.

Other factors will weigh in on which specific web pages the search engine shows for every user, the device they are using, and the peculiarities of how they phrase their search, but the canonical link has a profound impact on the algorithms.

In your browser of choice, there should be an option to view the source code of any web page you happen to be browsing.

Typically, you’ll be able to access it by right-clicking anywhere on the page and clicking the option to “View page source”. Similarly, you can also get it by clicking “Inspect element”.

When you do, an array of text will appear in your browser window or in a new tab. You should be able to note several sections set apart by symbols, such as:

<meta content="A description of the content in the web page." name="description" />

These are blocks of code in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). If the website has canonicalize it’s URL, a canonical link will appear somewhere in this source code using a syntax similar to the following:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://rankreveal.com/" />

For example:

Once you’ve clicked the View page source button, you’ll see something like this, a wall of HTML codes. You should be able to locate the canonical tag on the top of the page under the <head> section. Or, you can just use the find function (ctrl + F) of your browser to locate it.

Beyond these basics, canonical links vary only in how you use them to drive your search results and website layout.

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Why Should You Care About Canonical Links?

This seemingly simple link element, introduced jointly by Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo way back in 2009, was designed to help clean up the link structure with duplicate content for search purposes.

Simply put, the HTML tag informs search engines which page they should pay attention to in a grouping of near identical content. This useful element has unfortunately become a source of a lot of confusion which has led to many sites choosing to avoid the problem entirely by leaving it out and hoping that the impact will be minimal on their search engine rankings.

Failure to do so leaves your site vulnerable to lost opportunities from missed traffic, SEO traction, and other search engine penalties.

If you’re not using canonical link for your website, you’ll lose out SEO juice!
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Why Do I Have Duplicate Content?

There are many useful scenarios in which your site might have two or more pages with the same content. E-commerce sites, for example, often have one product featured on multiple URLs to track the origin point of click-throughs from advertising associates and social media sites.

A website featuring recipes or workout plans might have a media-rich page full of robust animations and sounds intended for a desktop environment with a broadband connection while linking to a printer-friendly version with identical content for ease of distribution.

These are just a small sample of the reasons a website administrator might want to have multiple URLs direct to the same content, but this would otherwise create issues in your SEO practices without the implementation of canonical links.

Understanding Search Engine Indexing and Duplication

Within a content management system, best practices for new material on a website includes categorization along multiple, cross-referenced points of the data and metadata of the item.

A date-based archive, a content-relevant category, a homepage presentation, and it’s original URL – this data is transmitted to the search engines who view each instance of the same information as a unique URL that must be indexed and listed individually.

One page can have up to 8 entries on each search engine. This leads to the ‘duplicate entries omitted’ line of text seen in some search results, even if the multiple entries are present only within the site’s database.

The canonical link element lets the search engine know the order of importance of each of those entries. “This one,” it tells the search engine, “rather than that one.” Each entry will still be indexed into the vast trove of information gathered by the crawler, but the one the search engine defers to when revealing the listing to the searching public is one of your choosing.

The search engine then perceives the remaining indexed pages as part of a cohesive group, rather than individual entries. This grants the site a higher ranking because the results aren’t being split between the duplicate copies.

example.com
www.example.com
www.example.com/
www.example.com/index.html
www.example.com/index.html?var=1
www.mysite.com/en/us/
www.<ExternalHostProvider>.com/example

Why Should You Use Canonical Links?

The primary benefits of properly using canonical links are derived from the direction of traffic flow across URLs with similar content and improving the reliability of the data gathered from your website analytics.

Although search engines are reluctant to give out the exact details of how their algorithms work, improperly categorized duplicate content is known to negatively impact the ratings assigned to a website and have the potential to spur a direct punishment if they believe you are intentionally attempting to mislead the crawler to draw in more traffic.

Search engines do so to provide more satisfying results to their users and thus draw in more traffic for themselves, so taking advantage of the service they provide requires adhering to their guidelines.

Another reason to use <rel=canonical> is link juice. One of the ways Google determine the quality of a link is through amount of traffic and click-through-rate. So if you website does not have a canonical link, the traffic (link juice) will be divided among separate URLs even though they are technically the same site.

Just imagine having a jug of water and pouring into a few different cups, you’ll have little left for each. But if you have a canonical link, your traffic will all go to the same URL and hence all of the link juice will go into that cup, hence giving your website maximum link juice.

Not to Be Confused: The 301 Redirect

Canonical links should not be mistaken for a 301 Redirect, a function that appears similar to the end user but goes through a different underlying process.

Canonical Redirect vs 301 Redirect

Basically, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. These website redirect links various URLs under one umbrella so search engines rank all the addresses based on the domain authority from inbound links.

Despite the correlation in the behavior of the 301 and canonical links, the former forces an action on the part of users and search engines by forcing an update of the stored data for that site’s permalink. The previous link and its content is skipped entirely as the browser journeys on to its new destination.

When should you use a 301 redirect instead of a canonical link?

Although on the surface the functionality of a canonical link is quite similar to that of a 301 redirect, in terms of metrics they are not. While they both tell search engines to treat multiple pages (or URLs) as a single page, a 301 redirects all traffic to a specific URL and a canonical tag does not.

If your site structure has changed, then a 301 redirect is the preferred option, since it will also correct bookmarks. If your site has duplicate content, but you need to measure traffic to each URL, use a canonical link for the benefit of the search engines.

Below is a video of Matt Cutts explaining the benefits of a 301 redirect over rel=canonical:

Let’s Get Canonical!

Now that you are a canonical link expert, you can start cleaning up your site. Take note of the canonical links already in place and look for content that might benefit from their introduction.

Make sure to work alongside your website administrator, IT support staff, or anyone else who happens to be working on the website so that you all remain on the same page. With luck and further education, your website can be a stellar beacon of search engine optimization in no time.

This post was originally written by Zhi Yuan and published on Aug 4, 2015. It was most recently updated on Aug 10, 2018.

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SEO Top 40 Jargons:
Explained In Plain English

40 of only the most useful SEO terminologies.
Your first guide to the SEO world.
Aimed at complete beginners.
Compact and super easy to read!

Read More

The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

If you were following our blog last week you would have read our post A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Marketing Campaigns, which —you guessed it— was packed with tips on effective email marketing strategies. In the post, we also promised an upcoming blog about the best and worst times to send emails. Here it is!

When we first began sending emails to our subscribers, we first had to figure out the best day and best time to send emails. Just in the same way a café may have a morning or lunch rush hour, there’s also a ‘rush hour’ when people are more likely to get on their phones or laptops.

Finding that sweet spot brought just the benefits we hoped for: we’re able to ensure that we achieve a high rate of emails opened, and then click-through to our site. This generates high traffic, which in turn, can generate sales.

It sounds so simple, and it is! It’s just a matter of figuring out that first step. But first, let’s get to the roots.

It’s no secret that your email subscribers are your most loyal audience. They have the most incentive and the ability to share your content. Once it is sent, this sharing creates more traffic, more subscribers, and more customers.

Combining timing with a healthy subscriber list ensures your site sees all of these benefits and more. It’s a snowball effect of success.

Timing Is Everything

Your email marketing campaign is ready to launch! Your subject line is attention-grabbing, your content is interesting, your offer is compelling, your email is beautifully designed. You’re set up for success, right? Only if it were that easy!.

All of your hard work has the potential of falling flat if your timing happens to be off. The quest of getting your subscribers to open your emails relies largely on this. But don’t fear, as we’ve been there too and we’re here to figure it out with you.

The first key tip I have to share is don’t forget about time zones.

To solve the time zone issue, you can either choose to send emails based on the most important time zone or segment your subscribers lists.

We talked about this a bit more in our post The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media previously. It can be so easy to forget that if you schedule your email to be sent out at 10am on Tuesday your time, your recipients may instead receive it at 2am on a Monday their time. Oops!

We tackle this by using Aweber to create a breakdown list by time zone. We’re able to categorize our subscribers to ensure that they receive our emails at the same time, no matter where they are in the world.

Don’t fear if your mailing service doesn’t offer this feature. You can instead look at your data to see where the majority of your audience is based.

If your company is based locally, go with your own time zone. However, if your audience is a global one then target the time zone of most of your subscribers (Aweber also tracks this for us, as many other mailing services will do too).

For instance, if your audience is in the US, target the Eastern Time Zone, as this includes nearly 50% of the population, which is the highest population concentration in a single US time zone.

All About the Audiences

Campaign success, as always, depends on the audience. Understanding the demographic of our audience has helped us shape the content and direction of our work here at SEOPressor. It’s also the driving force in working out the best and worst times to send emails.

The first question to ask is:

Do your emails attract young professionals, or older, more experienced business people?

Knowing this will help give you a general idea of their schedule and when they are most likely to scroll through their phones. For example, sending an email on a Saturday evening will be less effective with a younger crowd, who may be out until late at night, heading home without checking their email.

In the same way, sending out your email on a weekend morning may not effectively reach subscribers with children, who may take Saturdays and Sundays out as the time to spend with their families.

So, it’s not only about the content, it’s about the audience too!

The Best Day To Send Emails

After years in the internet marketing industry, here’s what we found out:

The Three Best Days To Send Email

Research taken from 10 studies have proven that Tuesday is the best day to send email out into the world. The studies show that the highest email open rates happen on Tuesdays, which we know then leads to more click-through and higher site traffic.

The next highest open rate is shown to be on a Thursday. If you’re aiming to send two emails per week, we’d recommend choosing Tuesday as your first day, and Thursday as the second.

None of the ten studies showed that Wednesdays were the most successful day to send email, but it did come in at second a few times. Be sure not to overload your subscribers’ inboxes by sending them emails two days in a row! Flooding their inboxes could create the opposite effect, and you may see no clickthroughs at all.

So, if you do choose Wednesday as your day to schedule your emails, try to avoid sending again on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

On the other hand, Hubspot’s report revealed that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had the most email opens.

The worst days for open rates were weekends for majority of the businesses, hands down.

The verdict: Best days to send are on weekdays.

It’s About Subjectivity

Do keep in mind that despite these statistics, a lot of this can be subjective. We’ve found it’s best to base our email schedule on what works best for our clients. For instance, the data we gather from Aweber shows us that our email opens have a great success rate on Saturdays and Sundays, which isn’t always common. I’ll get to that in a little bit in our Weekend Warriors section below.

But first, let’s see what the best time to send email marketing campaigns is.

The Best Time To Send Email

This can be tricky, with many more options for effective time slots. What we’ve found helps is thinking of when our subscribers may be most likely to have the time to browse on their phones.

Seeing which is the best time of day to send email is especially important because data shows that the most email opens are likely to happen within the first hour of your mail being sent! This percentage continues to drop off after this first hour, so making sure you choose a productive hour is your key to success.

Mornings are definitely a great time. People are checking their phones first thing after waking up, or on their commute to work, perhaps with a cup of coffee in hand while getting up to date for the day.

The first peak, not so surprisingly, is at 6am. This is likely to be because of the statistic that indicates a whopping 50% of people begin their work day by checking their emails in bed. If your audiences are workaholics, 6am might be the perfect time for your email to land in their inboxes.

There’s also high success between 9am and 11am, with a spike at 10am. If your subscribers are likely to be settling in at work and getting up to date online at 10am, this could be the optimum time for you.

There’s another peak in the afternoon at 2pm, when people have finished lunch and are looking forward to finishing work. If a majority of your subscribers are office workers, this could be a great time to schedule your email.

Another high success rate occurs in the evenings, from 8pm to midnight. Guilty as charged, — I often check my emails again right before bed. With so many internet distractions these days, many people like to try and keep their mornings open for productivity, and will avoid marketing emails in the mornings. The evening then becomes the perfect time to check their inboxes for other, non-work related emails.

The verdict: Most people tend to open their emails in the morning, especially on business days.

What We Think

This is what we have learned as we’ve gone along, and hopefully will give you, even more insights into the best and worst times to send emails.

The Monday Blues

We all know this feeling! After a weekend off, catching up with friends, or simply staying in pajamas for 48 hours, it’s hard to get revved up for a week ahead of work.

For this reason, Mondays are generally considered to be the worst day you can send your marketing emails or newsletters. This is because people are often more likely to arrive at work, open their inboxes, and delete whatever seems like spam or unimportant emails. So, test and configure the best time to send business email as it differs for everyone.

The Weekend Warriors

This can be a tricky one, depending on your business and your audience. While internet activity does generally reduce on Saturdays and Sundays, some people also have more free time to check their inboxes.

This again is entirely based on your readers. As mentioned earlier, if the majority of your readers are full-time professionals who have children, they may be taking the weekend out to spend time with their families.

However, if the majority of your subscribers are young professionals or people without children, then you’ll see the rate of success of email opens increased.

Our own success in weekend opens and clickthroughs may also lie in the fact of how internet-based we are at SEOPressor.

As many businesses will close and not send emails on the weekend, this gives us a great opportunity to get noticed in our subscribers’ inboxes.

If this strategy sounds right for your audience and company, then weekends might be the ideal time for you. Without the flood of weekday emails, you’ll be right at the top.

The Midweek Success

The proof is in the pudding!

Although we do see a high open and click through rate on Saturdays and Sundays, our most successful email days do align with the data.

Combining our past experiences with sending out emails with the information and data collected from the studies, we feel confident in saying that, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are likely the most successful days for sending your email out to subscribers.

A Quick Debrief: Discovering The Best Time To Send Emails

I’ve found that so much in being successful in this industry really is about getting hands on and learning as you go. So I’m going to get real and show you some of the steps I take in figuring out my perfect formula.

Step 1: Beginning with what the data tells me. Tuesdays at 10am show the highest success? Ok! I’ll start with this and see if it’s the best day and time for me.

Step 2: Checking my own data. I’m going to check with Aweber to see how many email opens and click-through my chosen time has given me.

Step 3: Knowing there’s always room for improvement. If I’m not getting the email open rate I want to see, then I begin testing a few different times and days.

Step 4: Keeping up with testing. I’ll keep monitoring my data with Aweber to work out where I’m seeing the most success, and continue to tweak my schedule based on this.

Step 5: Making sure I understand my audience. Knowing my client base and demographic will help me tailor my email scheduling to their own schedules.

Step 6: Asking: is the content right? Once I’ve figured out my audience base I need to confirm that my email content is exactly what they want to see. The first thing I think of before drafting my email is ‘what will my subscribers think?’

So, there you have it!

What’s the most successful day you’ve had with email scheduling? I’d love to know what your experiences are with your own best and worst times to send emails. Let me know if you have any more handy tips to share in the comment section down below too!

This post was originally written by Joanne Chong and published on March 31, 2018. It was most recently updated on July 27, 2018.

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Strategic Guide For Best Times To Send Emails

Take your email marketing campaign to the next level today!
Identify your customers’ pattern to increase engagement
Turn your existing customers into loyal customers
Send them the right message at the right time

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The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

Link building is one of the most essential aspects of SEO, yet also one of the most misunderstood and difficult pieces of the search marketing equation. We all know that acquiring high-quality links with White Hat Link Building to your website is one of Google’s primary ranking factors, but not all links are created equally and link building has changed considerably in recent years. Gone are the days of link farms, article directories and blog comment links designed to boost your sites’ rankings. With each tweak of the algorithm, Google has grown considerably smarter in how it evaluates and values…

The post The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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The Essence of SEO: What Is High-Quality Content?

The Essence of SEO: What Is High-Quality Content?

In the wake of Google’s Hummingbird update (and all the other animal-related updates too), there’s one question that needs to be revisited… What exactly is high-quality content? To answer that question, you can’t simply talk about content marketing. You have to understand Google’s ultimate aim for search. Let take a deeper look at search, how it’s evolving, and how that affects us as marketers. Then we’ll review the challenges you face as a content creator and what you need to do to create higher quality content on a consistent basis. Google’s apparent anti-SEO stance Hummingbird wasn’t the only major change…

The post The Essence of SEO: What Is High-Quality Content? appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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The rise of the modern B2B marketer

The rise of the modern B2B marketer is changing the way marketing and sales teams work together to generate new business and deliver ROI. 

New research from Contentive, a global B2B marketing and events company, found that the role of the modern B2B marketing professional is rapidly shifting owing to the explosion of data, analytics and automation tools.

Contentive surveyed its trusted community of B2B marketing professionals to learn more about their key challenges and for a glimpse for what the future holds for B2B marketing.

The top three trends that are influencing emerging strategies are personalization, artificial intelligence and influencer marketing. The survey found that 57% of B2B marketers consider personalization as the key trend that will influence their marketing strategy for the next 12 months. With an increasing focus on using data and technology to craft personalized, tailored messages, the modern B2B marketer is constantly testing, iterating and optimizing different marketing channels to analyse the success of their marketing campaigns.

As a result, marketing budgets are no longer fixed, with 48% of marketers allocating budgets on an ongoing basis to effective channels. In many cases, this means marketing budgets are increasing, with 66% of respondents expecting their marketing budget to increase for the year.

Collaboration between sales and marketing is also increasingly important, with ever stronger focus on new business conversion as well as ROI from existing customers and website traffic. Top of the funnel leads are no longer the preferred campaign outcome. Marketers are increasingly challenged to deliver nurtured, or even sales qualified leads.

Key findings from the survey were:

57% of B2B marketers think personalization is the key trend influence over the next 12 months
50% of B2B marketers are now demanding leads that are fed into the middle and bottom – not just the top – of the funnel
ROI priorities are clear, with conversation rates, yield growth and site traffic top of mind
Collaboration with colleagues is more critical than ever. As marketing becomes more visibly integral to business success, five colleagues now typically have input on investment decisions
Content marketing is here to stay. Like social media and email marketing, these channels remain critical to delivering on ROI goals.

To download the key findings from the 2018 B2B Marketing Survey, click here.

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Ask Yoast: Hreflang for sites with different domains

Ask Yoast: Hreflang for sites with different domains

If you have two very similar sites in two different languages, you may wonder whether you need to implement hreflang. Will Google recognize both sites as ‘stand-alone’ websites, and is that what you want? While translated content isn’t considered duplicate content, it may still be worth your while to actively point users to the right domain with hreflang.

For those that aren’t well versed in technical SEO, implementing hreflang will probably take a lot of time and something might even break. If that’s the case for you, should you still go to great lengths to implement hreflang? I’ll dive into that in this Ask Yoast!

Moria Gur sent us her question on using hreflang:

I have two sites with two different domains for coloring pages, one in Hebrew and one in English. The images and text are similar (but in a different language). Should I use hreflang in this case? Or will Google recognize both as ‘stand-alone’ websites?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

When to use hreflang

Optimizing your site for multiple languages? You need our Multilingual SEO training! »

$199 – Buy now » Info “Well, yes, Google will recognize both as stand-alone websites and there’s nothing wrong with them. Adding hreflang might give you a bit of an edge on both sites, but it’s also a lot of work. So, if you’re doing well with both sites right now, I would not do that, just because all the work involved is probably more work than it will return in terms of investment.

If you are not doing too well, or one is doing much better than the other, then maybe it’s worthwhile trying that. And you could just try that on a subset of the pages, and hreflang those properly to the other one. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to [email protected], and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: hreflang: The ultimate guide »

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