A tangled web of broken links and redirects being untangled and repaired

How to Fix Non-Canonical URLs in Shopify

Non-canonical URLs can be a headache for website owners, especially those using the popular ecommerce platform, Shopify. These URLs, also known as duplicate URLs, can create confusion for search engines and users alike. In this article, we will explore what non-canonical URLs are, why they can have a negative impact on SEO, and most importantly, how to fix them in Shopify.

Understanding Non-Canonical URLs in Shopify

Before delving into the fix, let’s first grasp the concept of non-canonical URLs. In simple terms, non-canonical URLs are different variations of the same page URL. They arise due to multiple reasons such as URL parameters, HTTP/HTTPS differences, or trailing slashes. Confusing, isn’t it? Let me paint a picture to help clarify this complex matter.

Imagine you are hosting a grand party and have sent out beautifully designed invitations to your guests. Unfortunately, some guests receive multiple copies of the invitation, each with slight differences. Some variations might have extra commas, others might be missing the RSVP section. Imagine the confusion and chaos this would create for your guests!

Similarly, search engines face a similar dilemma when they encounter non-canonical URLs. They struggle to determine the authoritative version of a webpage, resulting in diluted organic search visibility and potential duplicate content issues.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the different types of non-canonical URLs that can occur in Shopify:

URL Parameters

URL parameters are additional strings that are appended to the URL after a question mark, often used to track information or filter content. For example, www.yourshopifystore.com/products?p=2. These parameters can create multiple versions of the same page, leading to confusion for search engines and users alike. It’s like having guests receive invitations with different tracking codes, making it difficult to determine the accurate RSVP count for your party.

HTTP/HTTPS Differences

This occurs when your website can be accessed through both HTTP and HTTPS protocols, resulting in multiple versions of the same page. For example, www.yourshopifystore.com and https://www.yourshopifystore.com. Just like if your guests received invitations with different URLs, some starting with “http://” and others with “https://”, it would create a sense of inconsistency and potential security concerns.

Trailing Slashes

The presence or absence of a trailing slash at the end of a URL can also create non-canonical URLs. For example, www.yourshopifystore.com/about and www.yourshopifystore.com/about/. It’s like sending out invitations with some having a neatly folded corner and others without, causing confusion among your guests as to the correct format of the URL.

The Impact of Non-Canonical URLs on SEO

The consequences of non-canonical URLs on SEO can be quite significant. Search engines may waste their precious crawl budget by indexing multiple versions of the same page, diluting the visibility and authority of your content. This can negatively affect your search engine rankings, leading to decreased organic traffic.

Additionally, non-canonical URLs can also impact the user experience. Imagine if your guests received multiple copies of your party invitation and ended up at different venues or didn’t receive any RSVP information. Frustrating, right? Similarly, users searching for your products or services may stumble upon duplicate versions of your Shopify pages, resulting in a fragmented browsing experience and potential loss of trust.

Now that we have a better understanding of non-canonical URLs and their impact, let’s explore some strategies to fix and prevent these issues in Shopify.

Identifying Non-Canonical URLs in Shopify

Now that we have a clear understanding of non-canonical URLs, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and identify these pesky duplicates in our Shopify store. Fortunately, there are several tools at our disposal:

Tools to identify non-canonical URLs

1. Google Search Console: This invaluable tool provides insights into how Google sees and indexes your website. Utilize the “Coverage” and “Duplicate URLs” sections to identify any duplicate content issues.

Google Search Console is a free web service provided by Google that allows website owners to monitor and optimize their site’s presence in the search results. By linking your Shopify store to Google Search Console, you can gain valuable insights into how Google crawls and indexes your website. In the “Coverage” section, you can identify any issues with duplicate content, including non-canonical URLs. The “Duplicate URLs” section specifically highlights URLs that are considered duplicates by Google’s algorithms.

2. Screaming Frog: This powerful web crawling tool allows you to analyze your entire website and identify duplicate URLs. Utilize the “Duplicate Pages” report to uncover any non-canonical URLs lurking in your Shopify store.

Screaming Frog is a popular SEO tool that can crawl websites and provide detailed insights into various aspects of their structure and content. By using Screaming Frog to crawl your Shopify store, you can generate a “Duplicate Pages” report that highlights any duplicate URLs present. This report will help you identify non-canonical URLs that may be causing issues with your SEO efforts.

Common types of non-canonical URLs in Shopify

Now that we have the necessary tools, let’s explore the common types of non-canonical URLs that often plague Shopify stores:

  • Product pagination URLs: These occur when your products are displayed on multiple pages, resulting in URLs with different pagination parameters, such as www.yourshopifystore.com/products?p=1 and www.yourshopifystore.com/products?p=2.
  • Product pagination URLs are a common issue in Shopify stores that have a large number of products. When products are displayed across multiple pages, each page may have a different URL with a pagination parameter. For example, if you have 100 products and display 10 products per page, you would have 10 pages with URLs like www.yourshopifystore.com/products?p=1, www.yourshopifystore.com/products?p=2, and so on. These URLs can be considered non-canonical as they represent different pages with the same content.

  • Sort/filter URLs: These URLs are created when users interact with the sorting or filtering options on your Shopify store. For example, www.yourshopifystore.com/collections/all?sort=price_asc.
  • Sort/filter URLs are generated when users interact with the sorting or filtering options available on your Shopify store. For example, if you have a collection of products and allow users to sort them by price, the resulting URL may include a parameter indicating the sorting order, such as ?sort=price_asc. These URLs can be non-canonical as they represent different ways of organizing the same collection of products.

  • HTTPS variations: As mentioned earlier, having both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your website can result in non-canonical URLs. Ensure that your Shopify store is set up to automatically redirect HTTP URLs to their HTTPS counterparts.
  • Having both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your website can lead to non-canonical URLs. It is important to ensure that your Shopify store is properly configured to automatically redirect HTTP URLs to their HTTPS counterparts. This will help consolidate your website’s authority and avoid duplicate content issues caused by having multiple versions of the same page.

The Importance of Fixing Non-Canonical URLs

Now that we have a thorough understanding of non-canonical URLs and their potential impact, let’s explore why it is crucial to fix them in your Shopify store.

Non-canonical URLs can create confusion and inefficiency in your website’s structure, making it difficult for search engines and users to navigate and find the content they are looking for. By fixing non-canonical URLs, you can improve the overall performance and user experience of your Shopify store.

Improving website crawlability and indexability

Fixing non-canonical URLs ensures that search engines can efficiently crawl and index your website. When search engine bots encounter duplicate pages, it can lead to wasted resources and confusion. By consolidating duplicate pages and redirecting them to the canonical URL, you provide search engine bots with a clear path to follow, ensuring that your high-quality content receives the attention it deserves.

Think of your website as a well-organized library. By eliminating duplicate books and properly organizing the shelves, librarians can easily locate and categorize information. Similarly, when you fix non-canonical URLs, you create a streamlined structure for search engines, ensuring they can effectively navigate and index your Shopify store.

Furthermore, by optimizing your website’s crawlability and indexability, you increase the chances of your content being discovered and ranked higher in search engine results. This can lead to increased organic traffic and visibility for your Shopify store.

Enhancing user experience and navigation

A well-optimized website is not only beneficial for search engines but also for your users. By eliminating duplicate URLs, you provide a seamless and intuitive browsing experience.

Imagine your Shopify store as a vast shopping mall. Now picture multiple stores with similar names in different locations. Shoppers would become frustrated and disoriented, potentially leaving the mall altogether. By fixing non-canonical URLs, you ensure that visitors to your Shopify store follow a logical and coherent path, enhancing their overall experience and increasing the likelihood of conversions.

When users encounter multiple URLs leading to the same content, it can create confusion and frustration. They may click on different URLs expecting different information, only to find themselves on the same page. This can lead to a poor user experience and a negative perception of your brand.

By fixing non-canonical URLs, you provide a clear and consistent navigation structure for your users. They can easily find the content they are looking for without encountering duplicate pages or dead ends. This improves their overall experience on your Shopify store and increases the chances of them converting into customers.

In conclusion, fixing non-canonical URLs is essential for improving the crawlability and indexability of your website, as well as enhancing the user experience and navigation. By taking the time to address and resolve non-canonical URLs in your Shopify store, you can optimize your website’s performance, increase organic traffic, and ultimately drive more conversions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fix Non-Canonical URLs in Shopify

Now comes the exciting part – fixing those non-canonical URLs in your Shopify store. Follow these steps to ensure you address and eliminate any duplicates:

Reviewing and analyzing non-canonical URLs

Start by performing a thorough review of your website, identifying all the non-canonical URLs. Use the tools mentioned earlier to obtain a comprehensive list of duplicates.

Once you have your list in hand, analyze the data and prioritize the fixes based on the potential impact on SEO and user experience. Remember to consider factors like search visibility, organic traffic, and conversion rates when determining the significance of each non-canonical URL.

Implementing 301 redirects in Shopify

Now that you have identified the non-canonical URLs and prioritized them, it’s time to implement 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that sends both users and search engines to a preferred version of a URL.

Think of a 301 redirect as a signpost in a maze. It guides lost tourists to the correct path, ensuring they reach their destination without any confusion. By implementing 301 redirects for non-canonical URLs, you are directing both users and search engines to the preferred version of your Shopify pages.

Updating canonical tags in Shopify

Canonical tags are HTML tags that tell search engines which version of a URL is the preferred one. They play a crucial role in consolidating duplicate content and ensuring search engines prioritize the correct version in their indexing and ranking process.

Think of canonical tags as a beacon of light for lost ships at sea. By strategically placing these tags, you are guiding search engine boats towards the most relevant and authoritative version of your Shopify pages, preventing them from getting lost in the vast ocean of duplicate content.

Best Practices for Preventing Non-Canonical URLs in Shopify

While fixing non-canonical URLs is essential, it’s equally important to prevent them from occurring in the first place. By following these best practices, you can set up your Shopify store for long-term success:

Setting up proper URL structures in Shopify

Ensure that your Shopify store has a consistent and logical URL structure. Use descriptive and concise URLs that reflect the content of the page. Avoid excessive parameters or unnecessary characters that can lead to non-canonical URLs.

Regularly monitoring and auditing URLs in Shopify

Maintenance and vigilance are key when it comes to preventing non-canonical URLs. Regularly monitor and audit your Shopify store for any potential non-canonical URLs. Use the tools mentioned earlier to identify any new duplicates and address them promptly.

In conclusion, non-canonical URLs can be a stumbling block for SEO and user experience in your Shopify store. By understanding what they are, the impact they can have, and how to fix and prevent them, you can ensure that your Shopify store operates at its full potential. So put on your detective hat, analyze your URLs, and let’s fix those non-canonical URLs in Shopify!