As there are many aspects to achieving the perfect SERP on Google or Bing, we run into items which would seem complex and maybe even not applicable to our sites. However, in the scheme of things on the Internet, even the smallest items and details are definitely going to affect where you ultimately show up. A good explanation of canonicalization and utilization of it’s methods are detailed out by Rick DeJarnette and provide an excellent insight into what the term actually means.
Why Canonicalization Matters From A Linking Perspective
by Rick DeJarnette
Search engine optimization (SEO) can be like any other technical field of study. It is filled with specialized jargon that, to a newbie, can be more than intimidating. I recall that feeling was especially strong when I first encountered the term canonicalization.
It is a 14-letter, seven-syllable monster of a term. I first heard it spoken, and had to ask the person who said it to repeat it. It didn’t help. (It had been a long day!)
The truth of the matter is that canonicalization is not all that complicated to understand if the explanation is lucid. So let’s try to explain what it means, why it’s important, and what it has to do with linking.
What Is Canonicalization?
In mathematics, when the same data can be represented in multiple ways, it is best to standardize that representation by establishing the data’s canonical form, the one primary form in which it will be used. In the computer science field, the act of defining the canonical form of data is called canonicalization.
Simply put, canonicalization defines the one primary way you’ll use to write data, such as a URL string. As webmaster, you can choose which canonical form to use for a given URL on your site, but once selected, the chosen form should always be the way that URL is written.
Why Canonicalization Is Important
Fundamentally, you need to know that search engines do not index pages by their content. They index URLs. The content associated with the indexed URLs is brought in to the search engine database, but URLs are what possess ranking.
What complicates matters in search (and why canonicalization is important) is that the same content page can have multiple URLs associated with it.
I’m not talking about when Web spammers scrape your content and publish it on their own website. I’m talking about variations of URLs on your website all pointing to the same page.
For example, the following hypothetical URLs would likely all point to the same page (in this case, the home page of a site):
As you can see, a valid URL may either include or omit the subdomain prefix “www.”, a trailing slash after the top-level domain, the default webpage name for a folder, and/or one or more URL parameter suffixes (there are even more, but these are the most common). They can also be used in various combinations. The possible permutations of the above examples can quickly add up to a large number of URLs all pointing to the same content page.
Read the entire article at: Search Engine Land