'Duplicate content' on your website? Canonical Links to the Rescue!
If you've run an SEO optimization tool on your website and gotten reports of "Duplicate content". Percussion CM1 has a quick fix for that problem. With the introduction of the Canonical Link feature in Percussion CM1, we have automated the process of generating Canonical Links on your published website.
Assuming that you are running a CM1 website, this is configurable through your Site Preferences dialog for a given site. The Canonical Link feature allows you to tell Search Engines your preferred website address, protocol (we recommend HTTPS) and default document. You are also able to flag Sections/Folders or Landing Pages as the default Document. To get rid of 'Duplicate Content' warnings, we recommend that you use the Sections option.
This problem happens because landing pages can be accessed by both the folder name, and by a direct reference to the Page. For example, consider both of the following links:
Each link is valid, but they link to the same resource. This can confuse search engines as they aren't sure which link is "the definitive url" for the Page. Canonical Links solve this problem by adding metadata to the Page that states which url is the definitive, or Canonical, url for the resource.
In the case above, this markup is generated as follows:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.percussion.com/products/percussion-cm1-saas/" />
Taking advantage of the Canonical LInk feature with your CM1 managed website can be done without any coding following the steps below:
Step 1 - Match your Site Name to your Preferred Domain Name
Why have editors working on a site called PercussionSite when the Pages that they are working on are part of www.mysite.edu? Renaming the Percussion site to match your published website name will make it easier for your contributors to find content, and ensure that the Canonical URL for your website is correct.
Step 2 - Enable Canonical Links and Link to Sections
Clicking the checkbox to enable Canonical Links turns them on. Most people will also want to turn on the Sections option as those are the first URL's that search engines see. The screenshot below shows these options on the Site Preferences screen.
To wrap up the Canonical Link configuration, a few more settings are needed. These settings are important and setting them incorrectly can cause SEO damage to your web site, so this section is recommended reading for all.
1. Replace existing tags.
If you have existing Canonical Link tags that have been manually added to the Head sections of your CM1 templates, you should check this box. The system will remove any of the links it finds during publishing.
2. Set the protocol.
This is probably the most important step. If your website has SSL enabled, pick "https". If your website does not have SSL enabled pick "http" and consider switching to "https" for better search results. If you pick "https" and your website is "http" you will get errors on your published website. Better to request https support from Percusion Support or your IT team. Google treats https as a "signal" when indexing content, so enabling https on your web server can also have a positive impact on SEO.
3. Set the Default Document.
The Default Document is the page that gets returned when a web site visitor accesses a folder on your website. Percussion knows nothing about your web server, so you need to tell the product what your default document is. Versions of Percussion CM1 prior to 5.3 used "index" as the default document or Landing Page for folders. Since the 5.3 release the default document for new sites is "index.html". Add whatever default document that you use on your web site here.
With these settings configured, when the web site is published, the system will auto generate Canonical Links for all Landing Pages to point to the Folder on the web site. Now that Canonical Links are configured, you can further optimize your website by enabling redirects from the Landing Page to the section. We will cover using the Redirect Manager for this in a follow on blog post.