How to fix URL canonicalisation problems

WebSanity Internet Marketing logoA little while back I explained what URL Canonicalisation is and why it was something to look at when starting your Search Engine Optimisation efforts. Now let's look at some options on how to deal with it.

Unfortunately fixing URL canonicalisation is a technical issue whose resolution varies according to how your site was developed and hosted, so you will probably need help from a professional to do this for you (although it should only take 10 minutes to fix, and any half decent web developer should have taken care of this when they developed your site for you in the first place).

  1. 301 redirects
    If you host on Apache (if you don't know if you do then you shouldn't attempt this approach) then you will need to create/edit a file called .htaccess
    (Yes that's dot no space htaccess)
    Then make sure it contains something of the form:
    RewriteEngine On
    #Map . to www. with a / on the end
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^websanity\.co\.uk [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301,L]

    Replacing websanity with your name, and being careful to keep the \'s just as they are.
    We use a similar approach to resolve canonicalisation issues of and etc.


    If you host on Windows then you have to hope that your host has installed something called ISAPI rewrite which implements .htaccess functionality as above.

  2. Plugin
    If you're using a CMS, such as WordPress, then look out for a plugin that will deal with this for you. In the case of WordPress we recommend something like Yoast.

Sorry for the technical nature of this post, it is really to emphasise how a simple concept to understand can require specialised knowledge to resolve – hence why it's always a good question to test any potential web developer by asking them to explain: if they can't explain it then they certainly can't/won't deal with it.


Next post I promise to return to the non-technical and post something that any small business owner in Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire can action!



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About Gerald Thulbourn

Gerald Thulbourn setup WebSanity in 2004. He has a 1st class honours MEng in Microelectronics & Software Engineering (i.e. he's a techy), 5 A grades at A level (i.e. he works hard) and loves to communicate (i.e. odd for a techy). He hates tech speak, sloppy/badly tested code, and technology for the sake of technology's sake. He loves helping people understand marketing concepts and seeing how their application makes a real difference to their business. In particular he loves training; SEO, Website Analysis, WordPress etc. Read more about us on Google+