How Canonical URL Redirects (301 Redirects) Can Affect Your Search Rankings

arrows1Have you noticed that when you type certain URLs, they are automatically redirected? For instance, whether you type,, or they all resolve to the same URL This is called a “Canonical URL Redirect” or a “301 Redirect”. Now unfortunately, a lot of websites don’t have this redirect which can negatively affects their search rankings, though you probably don’t mind if they are your competition.

There are two reasons missing URL redirects is an issue: the page is seen as multiple pages and the “multiple pages” are seen as having duplicate content. Here is a brief look at both of these potential problems.

1.       There are a number of different factors search engines look at to determine the page ranking of a website. For instance, Google uses about 200 signals in its algorithm. When Google looks at your home page, one of the elements it looks at is the number of page views your website has received. If your home page comes up as three different pages then, in essence, it may be competing against itself for rankings. So having them all redirect to one page is beneficial.

2.       Though there are currently millions of websites, search engines verify that content is unique. There are many online tools you can use to check this yourself. Copyscape is one of those tools. Whatever method the search engines use, a website with duplicate content will be negatively affected. Though if the content is identical only one of the pages will be indexed, and the search engine then may adjust the ranking of the page and website. According to Google Webmaster they may view the “duplicate content shown with (the) intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users.” If this is the case, the website rankings may suffer.

3.       Inbound links have enormous influence over your site’s search engine rankings. Sometimes SEO specialists describe this as passing “link juice” from the site linking to the target site. That juice can be passed to the home page or an internal page of the site depending on the where the link is pointing. When a site lacks a canonical redirect for the home page, the home page can be addressed in more than one way, which means the link juice to the home page can be diluted.

So how is this issue corrected? Wikipedia defines the word canonical as “official” and “authoritative”. That is exactly what needs to be done – establish one URL that is the “official” URL. As shown above, a 301 Redirect redirects the visitor’s browser, but also tells the search engine crawler where the content has been permanently placed. The search engine then updates its index, and consequently all in-bound links to your home page will go directly to the desired page.  This is easily accomplished by your webmaster or you can follow the instructions we will provide in our next post.


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