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How to Fix Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

Non-canonical URLs can be a headache for any e-commerce website, and BigCommerce is no exception. These pesky URLs can negatively impact your search engine rankings and ultimately hinder your website’s visibility and organic traffic. In this article, we will delve into the world of non-canonical URLs, understand their implications on BigCommerce websites, and explore effective strategies to fix and prevent them. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Non-Canonical URLs

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let’s define what non-canonical URLs are. In simple terms, non-canonical URLs are different variations of the same page’s URL that lead to identical or similar content. These variations can be a result of different parameters, sorting options, or even different subdomains. Having multiple URLs for the same content can create confusion for search engines and dilute the authority of your website.

What are Non-Canonical URLs?

Non-canonical URLs are URLs that deviate from the preferred or canonical version of a particular page. For example, if your preferred URL is “www.example.com/product,” non-canonical URLs might include “www.example.com/?product=123,” “www.example.com/product?sort=price,” or “product.example.com.”

Let’s take a closer look at each type of non-canonical URL:

1. URLs with Parameters: These are URLs that contain additional parameters, such as sorting options or tracking codes. For instance, “www.example.com/product?sort=price” adds a parameter to the URL to sort the products by price. While this can be useful for user experience, it creates multiple URLs for the same content.

2. Subdomain URLs: Subdomains are prefixes added before the domain name, such as “product.example.com.” When using subdomains, each subdomain can potentially have its own version of the same content, leading to non-canonical URLs. This can happen when different teams or departments within a company create their own subdomains without proper coordination.

Why are Non-Canonical URLs a Problem in BigCommerce?

In the context of BigCommerce, non-canonical URLs can adversely affect your website’s SEO performance. Search engines like Google are constantly evolving and striving to deliver the most relevant and authoritative content to their users. When search engines encounter numerous non-canonical URLs pointing to the same content, they may have difficulty determining which URL to prioritize, potentially resulting in lower rankings or even indexing issues.

Let’s explore the specific problems non-canonical URLs can cause in BigCommerce:

1. Duplicate Content: Non-canonical URLs can lead to duplicate content issues. When search engines find multiple URLs with the same or similar content, they may not know which version to index or display in search results. This can dilute the visibility and impact of your website.

2. Link Equity Dilution: Each URL on your website accumulates link equity, which is a measure of authority and trust. When you have multiple non-canonical URLs for the same content, the link equity gets divided among them, reducing the overall impact of your backlinks. This can hinder your website’s ability to rank well in search engine results.

3. Crawl Budget Waste: Search engines allocate a limited crawl budget to each website, determining how many pages they will crawl and index. When there are multiple non-canonical URLs, search engines may spend valuable crawl budget on crawling and indexing duplicate or similar content instead of focusing on the most important pages. This can prevent new or updated content from being discovered and indexed promptly.

By understanding the problems associated with non-canonical URLs in BigCommerce, you can take proactive measures to address and optimize your website’s URL structure. Implementing canonical tags, setting preferred URLs, and utilizing URL parameters effectively are some of the strategies you can employ to ensure search engines understand the canonical version of your content.

Identifying Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

Now that we understand the impact of non-canonical URLs, it’s crucial to identify them within your BigCommerce website. By isolating these problematic URLs, you can take the necessary steps to fix them and improve your website’s SEO. Let’s explore some common causes and effective tools and techniques to identify non-canonical URLs in BigCommerce.

Common Causes of Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

Non-canonical URLs can originate from various sources, and it’s essential to identify the root causes to prevent their proliferation. Some common causes include:

  • Product variations, such as different sizes or colors
  • Sorting options, such as sorting products by price or popularity
  • Session IDs or tracking parameters appended to the URL
  • Subdomain variations

Product variations are a common cause of non-canonical URLs in BigCommerce. When you offer products in different sizes or colors, each variation may have its own URL. For example, if you sell a t-shirt in three different colors, you may have URLs like:

  • https://www.example.com/products/t-shirt-red
  • https://www.example.com/products/t-shirt-blue
  • https://www.example.com/products/t-shirt-green

While these URLs may be necessary for customers to navigate and purchase specific variations, they can create duplicate content issues from an SEO perspective.

Sorting options can also lead to non-canonical URLs. When customers sort products by price or popularity, the URL may change to reflect the sorting criteria. For example:

  • https://www.example.com/products?sort=price
  • https://www.example.com/products?sort=popularity

These URLs may serve a purpose for customers looking for specific sorting options, but search engines may view them as separate pages with duplicate content.

In some cases, session IDs or tracking parameters may be appended to the URL. These parameters can help track customer behavior or personalize the browsing experience. However, they can also create non-canonical URLs. For example:

  • https://www.example.com/products?sessionid=12345
  • https://www.example.com/products?utm_source=newsletter

While these URLs may be useful for tracking purposes, they can confuse search engines and dilute the SEO value of your pages.

Subdomain variations can also contribute to non-canonical URLs. If you have multiple subdomains for different regions or languages, each subdomain may have its own URL structure. For example:

  • https://us.example.com/products
  • https://uk.example.com/products

While subdomains can be beneficial for targeting specific audiences, they can lead to duplicate content issues if the same products or pages are accessible through different subdomains.

Tools and Techniques for Identifying Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

To efficiently identify non-canonical URLs within your BigCommerce website, you can leverage the following tools and techniques:

  • Crawling Tools: Utilize crawling tools like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl to analyze your website’s structure and identify duplicate or non-canonical URLs. These tools can crawl your entire website and provide detailed reports on URL structures, duplicate content, and other SEO-related issues.
  • Google Search Console: Check the “Coverage” and “URL Inspection” reports in Google Search Console to identify any URL issues, including non-canonical URLs. Google Search Console provides valuable insights into how Google crawls and indexes your website, allowing you to identify and address any URL-related problems.

By using crawling tools and leveraging Google Search Console, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the non-canonical URLs present in your BigCommerce website. Armed with this knowledge, you can implement appropriate solutions to improve your website’s SEO and ensure a better user experience.

Impact of Non-Canonical URLs on SEO

Now that we’ve covered the basics of non-canonical URLs, let’s dive deeper into their direct impact on SEO and why fixing them is of utmost importance for your BigCommerce website.

When it comes to search engine rankings, they are crucial for driving organic traffic to your website. However, non-canonical URLs can harm your rankings in several ways:

  • Keyword Cannibalization: One of the major issues caused by non-canonical URLs is keyword cannibalization. When search engines encounter multiple URLs targeting the same keywords, they may struggle to determine the most relevant page to rank. This can result in your website’s pages competing against each other, diluting the overall visibility and effectiveness of your SEO efforts.
  • Page Authority Dilution: Another negative impact of non-canonical URLs is the dilution of page authority and link equity. When search engines come across different variations of the same content through non-canonical URLs, they may allocate backlinks and ranking signals among these variations. As a result, the authority and ranking potential of a specific page can be spread thin, affecting its overall visibility and ability to rank well.
  • Indexing Issues: Non-canonical URLs can also lead to indexing issues. If search engines are unable to understand the canonical version of a page due to the presence of non-canonical URLs, indexing problems may arise. This can cause your website to be overlooked or not included in search engine results entirely, resulting in a significant loss of organic visibility and traffic.

The Importance of Canonical URLs for SEO in BigCommerce

Canonical URLs play a vital role in preserving your website’s SEO integrity and avoiding the aforementioned issues. By implementing canonical tags, you can specify the preferred URL for search engines and consolidate the ranking signals and authority of your BigCommerce pages.

When it comes to BigCommerce, having canonical URLs is especially important due to the dynamic nature of e-commerce websites. With numerous product variations, categories, and filters, it’s easy for non-canonical URLs to proliferate and cause SEO problems.

By utilizing canonical tags, you can ensure that search engines understand which version of your content should be indexed and displayed to users. This not only helps in consolidating the ranking signals and authority of your pages but also improves the overall user experience by preventing duplicate content issues and providing a clear hierarchy for search engines to follow.

Additionally, canonical URLs can also help in consolidating the link equity and backlinks acquired by different variations of a page. By specifying the canonical URL, you can ensure that all the link value generated by external websites, social shares, and other SEO efforts are attributed to the preferred version of the page, maximizing its ranking potential.

In conclusion, fixing non-canonical URLs is essential for maintaining and improving your website’s SEO performance. By implementing canonical tags and ensuring that search engines understand the preferred version of your content, you can avoid keyword cannibalization, page authority dilution, and indexing issues. This will ultimately lead to better search engine rankings, increased organic traffic, and improved visibility for your BigCommerce website.

Fixing Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

Now that we understand the significance of fixing non-canonical URLs, let’s delve into the best practices and step-by-step guide to rectify this issue within your BigCommerce website.

Best Practices for Implementing Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

Implementing canonical URLs correctly is crucial for preserving your website’s SEO performance. Follow these best practices to ensure a successful implementation:

  • Consistency: Ensure that the canonical URL is consistently implemented across all website pages with identical or similar content.
  • Proper Tag Placement: Place the canonical tag in the head section of your HTML, indicating the preferred version of the page.
  • Avoid Self-Referencing: Be cautious to avoid self-referencing canonical tags, which could create a loop and confuse search engines.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

Let’s walk through a step-by-step guide to fixing non-canonical URLs within your BigCommerce website:

  1. Audit and Identify: Use crawling tools and Google Search Console to audit your website and identify non-canonical URLs.
  2. Set Preferred URLs: Determine the preferred URLs for each page and ensure consistency across the website.
  3. Implement Canonical Tags: Add the appropriate canonical tags to the head section of your HTML, specifying the preferred URLs.
  4. Test and Validate: Test the implementation by inspecting URLs through Google Search Console and monitor the impact using tools like Google Analytics.
  5. Redirect if Necessary: In cases where non-canonical URLs have already been indexed or possess valuable backlinks, consider implementing 301 redirects to the preferred URLs.
  6. Continual Monitoring: Regularly monitor your website to ensure the persistence of canonical URLs and promptly address any new instances of non-canonical URLs.

Preventing Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

While fixing non-canonical URLs is essential, preventing their occurrence in the first place is equally important. Let’s explore some effective tips to help you avoid non-canonical URLs within your BigCommerce website.

Tips for Avoiding Non-Canonical URLs in BigCommerce

By following these tips, you can minimize the occurrence of non-canonical URLs:

  • Implement URL Structure: Design a logical URL structure that encompasses product categories, subcategories, and specific products to prevent the creation of duplicate URLs.
  • Use Product Options: Utilize product options and variants within the BigCommerce platform rather than creating separate pages for each variation.
  • Canonicalize Sorting Options: Set a default sorting option using canonical tags, ensuring that search engines focus on the preferred version of the page.

Regular Maintenance and Monitoring to Prevent Non-Canonical URLs

Non-canonical URLs can creep into your website over time, especially as new content and updates are added. To prevent such occurrences, implement regular maintenance and monitoring processes:

  • Periodic Audits: Conduct regular audits to identify any newly introduced non-canonical URLs and promptly address them.
  • Crawl Monitoring: Continuously monitor your website using crawling tools to detect any anomalies or unexpected changes in URL structure.
  • Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date with BigCommerce platform updates and SEO best practices to ensure that you are employing the latest techniques to prevent non-canonical URLs.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of non-canonical URLs and maintain a healthy and SEO-friendly BigCommerce website.

In conclusion, non-canonical URLs can pose severe challenges to your BigCommerce website’s SEO performance. Understanding the implications of non-canonical URLs, identifying and rectifying them, and employing preventive measures are vital steps toward maximizing your website’s visibility and organic traffic. By following the best practices and utilizing the tools and techniques we’ve discussed, you can empower your BigCommerce store and enjoy the benefits of an optimized and search engine-friendly online presence.