Recently, we explained to you the duplicate content problem caused by having a search form on your own website. The search engine will enter information on that form and cause a serious duplicate content issue.
This Daily Golden Nugget will explain a more common duplicate content issue that plagues many websites.
Unless your web programmer or web host specifically implement prevention techniques, all of you will have the following issues. We're not going to bore you with how to fix it; we will leave that up to your own website people.
When you type in your domain name, you need to make sure no matter what the format, it always brings you to the same page.
Here's an example you can see for yourself:
Go to this URL:
But that is the same web page as this URL:
It also happens to be the same page as this one:
And finally, that is the same page as this one:
These are 4 common permutations of website home pages. In this case, the website is powered by a "PHP" content management system, so the file the extensions say ".php" instead of the common ".html" that you might be used to seeing.
Let's put these website addresses next to each other so you can see them clearly.
This situation might seem perfectly natural to all of us. It's the same page, and the website is flexible enough to return the correct information regardless how you type the address.
This is a good feature when you consider usability, except it's really bad for your SEO efforts. Google has gone on record to state that they understand this type of duplicate content, and they will not penalize your website for it; they will simply randomly ignore 3 or your 4 versions.
However, this type of problem doesn't help your ranking because if 3 of your pages are being ignored, it means your link building, Facebook and Twitter sharing might be nullified.
In the past, it was uncommon to see advertisements without the "www." before the domain name. But today, customers understand that "krombholzjewelers.com" and "www.krombholzjewelers.com" are the same, and many (maybe even you) won't bother typing the www in the web browsers any more.
Usually, the way you type in your browser will also match how you share links around the internet.
Sharing to Twitter? You will copy the http://krombholzjewelers.com address from your browser and paste it into your Tweet.
Sharing to Facebook? You might also copy the other version of the URL http://www.krombholzjewelers.com and attach that to your status update.
If Google is ignoring all but 1 of your URL variations you are losing all of that shared link credibility that is so hard to build.
So what's the solution?
First, check these by using your domain name in place of "domainname"
Some of these will not work on your website, but you need to find the ones that do. Watch carefully as you type the addresses and see if each variation will redirect to the same version. In the above list of 12 URLs, each one that works should redirect to a single page. If they don't, you need to report that to your web programmer or web host.
The web programmer will have a different solution than your web host. The programmer might redirect all your home pages to www.domainname.com/index.html but your host might direct them all to www.domainname.com. Both solutions are good.
A few years ago, programmers and hosting companies were not aware of this situation, so older websites are plagued with this problem. New websites should not have this problem, and if they do it's simply negligence and the programmer is not keeping current with SEO issues.
Doing this will eventually migrate all those previously shared links to the fixed location, and it should slowly increase your SERP ranking.