How to steal the competition’s best keywords: A 3-step guide

Why invest so much into keyword research when your competitors have already done the work? Columnist Jacob Baadsgaard explains how to use competitive research to inform your paid search keyword strategy. The post How to steal the competition’s best keywords: A 3-step guide appeared first on…

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Local ranking factors study finds reviews, organic SEO best practices boost local visibility

This is the second year of the LocalSEOGuide ranking factors study, performed in conjunction with UC Irvine. The post Local ranking factors study finds reviews, organic SEO best practices boost local visibility appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Be the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your Brand

Be the Best Answer Grow Influence
“Be the Best Answer” is an expression my team and I have used many times in client strategy planning, training, presentations, webinars, blogging, and in my book Optimize about the intersection of search with owned, earned, paid and shared media.

Being present in a relevant, credible and useful way on all the channels where buyers are looking is a powerful (but often difficult to execute) way to provide the kinds of customer experiences that greatly differentiate one brand from another.


Influence plays an important role in a “Best Answer” marketing strategy.
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Influence plays an important role in a “Best Answer” marketing strategy as buyers pay less attention to ads and brand content, and more time listening to peers and industry subject matter experts.

While many companies are experiencing increased competition and waning interest in their marketing, brands that infuse influencers into their marketing initiatives do not suffer this decline of attention.

For example, Adidas maintains command of customer attention by boosting credibility with advocates via dark social. Our client SAP grows their influence and reach in specific areas of interest by co-creating content with industry experts in a variety of formats including video, blog posts, ebooks and interactive experiences.

Both of these brands build their own influence with audiences they’re trying to reach and engage by partnering on content with influencers that already have customer attention.


Brands can build influence by co-creating content within influencers that customers already trust.
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So how can your company take advantage of growing brand influence by working with industry influencers?  Here are 5 guidelines for building brand influence you can follow:

1. Audit your brand’s influence, advocates and influencers

Establishing a benchmark for your brand’s current level of influence is essential. But you must first ask, what are you trying to be influential about? Whatever idea pops into your mind needs to be reconciled with what customers actually care about.

Assess your brand’s share of voice for the topics you want to be influential about on social channels, in search and anywhere else customers discover, consume and engage with solutions content. These are the places where you’ll be co-creating content with experts to be the best answer and build your brand’s influence, as well as grow leads and sales.

Identify the gap between the quantity, quality and sentiment of conversations happening around your brand and the topic currently and where you want to be. Closing that gap will be a key driver for your brand influence program.

Determine who is already advocating for your brand in relation to the topics you have in mind. Whether those fans are customers, partners or users, they can be activated to be advocates. They can also help define an advocate persona for recruiting more advocates.

Who are the best influencers for your topics? For your industry? For your brand? Identifying potential influencers to collaborate with takes time, technology and expertise. Leaving it to anyone with an opinion about who is an influencer could create some major mis-steps. Influential experts are not the same thing as influencers, for example.

It can seem overwhelming, but there’s good news: there are specialty influencer marketing tools and platforms you can use for auditing your share of voice, identifying advocates and finding influencers – just like there are experts (like TopRank Marketing) who can be your guide.

2. Identify internal influencer candidates

Growing brand influence from the inside is often forgotten with campaign driven influencer marketing. Besides industry influencers, customers and community members, one of the most significant and powerful sources of growing brand influence can come from within. Everyone has some degree of influence from the CEO to front line employees interacting with customers on a daily basis. Especially front line employees.


Someone with expertise is not automatically an influencer. Influence is the ability to affect action.
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Influence is the ability to affect action. Many internal subject matter experts can have credibility and respect but not have any idea or interest in “behaving like an influencer”. Developing SMEs into influencers takes time, but it can be well worth it.

Some companies already have internal influencers to work with. Being an influencer means creating and sharing content amongst an interested network that engages and takes action. Brands that can effectively connect to relevant internal influencers can create a symbiotic relationship and value exchange of exposure.

Internal subject matter experts and established influencers are valuable. Both need to be approached differently. Together, they can amplify brand influence in meaningful ways at scale.

3. Map topics of influence to content marketing and communications plans

Content is what closes the influence gap using the right topics, resources and industry/internal influencers. Once the influence topics are identified, they can be incorporated into content marketing plans.

A best answer strategy maps a connection between influence topics and content for PR and media relations as well as marketing tactics like content, social, SEO, advertising and influencers. Information hungry customers interact with numerous touch-points, ignoring overly salesy content and advertising, so including credible voices in marketing and PR communications increases reach and engagement.

By mapping the internal and external voices to collaborate with in marketing and PR content, you can facilitate the credibility of your brand as the best answer for the topics of focus.

4. Build executive influence with content and influencers

Executives are not automatically influential – at least not in a useful way. It is often assumed that company executives are influential by the nature of their position. To some degree that is true, but those senior business executives that create content and engage with industry influencers become far more influential. That influence can be leveraged for more significant media coverage, more credible engagement with customers and employees.

Operationalizing influence best practices amongst brand executives can be very rewarding for all. Recently I’ve observed companies make organized efforts towards building their executives’ profiles through content, social and events as well as by interacting with industry influencers. The boost in credibility and top of mind consideration as a result is impressive.

5. Build influence of internet subject matter experts through brand channels

Investing in influence can be more powerful than renting it through association. Besides identifying external influencers and advocates for content collaboration and building executive influence, there is an opportunity for brands to grow influence in a way that is almost counterintuitive.

Brands associating with known industry influencers gain influence themselves. It is also very powerful for the brand to help up and coming influencers grow. When brands can help their niche subject matter experts transition from simply possessing influence to learning how to behave as an influencer, the resulting content, reach and engagement can outperform the effect of external celebrity influencers, or “brandividiuals”.

Our client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions does a great job of showcasing their employees in marketing materials as well as co-creating content with their internal subject matter experts. By doing so, LinkedIn provides more credible content and builds the credibility of their team members at the same time. More credibility can translate to more reach, engagement and sales.

By incorporating these 5 steps your brand can begin to benefit from being a source of content that customers actually want to consume and from the people they trust and want to hear from. In the process, your brand will earn credibility and trust points that can extend influence to the brand, but only if the brand learns from why customers favor creators and adapts those practices itself. At the same time building internal influencers while helping external micro-influencers build their influence will result in even more influence for the brand.

Are you ready to get started?

Be sure to check out the influencer marketing services we provide at TopRank Marketing. Hey, that’s what makes this blog possible and if we can help your brand become more influential, everybody wins!

Of course we’re also hiring talented influencer marketing professionals with community management, content marketing and social media experience. So, be sure to check out our careers page as well.

Upcoming Influencer Marketing Speaking Events:

Nov 7: Dreamforce, San Francisco
The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Nov 9: Pubcon, Las Vegas
In Search of Influence

Nov 15: SMXL, Milan
Content Marketing & Influence Integration


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Be the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your Brand | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Lee Odden Shares 5 Best Practices for Enterprise Influencer Marketing #CMWorld

It was all aboard the Content Marketing World Enterprise Wednesday morning, as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took marketers to the not-so-final frontier of marketing: influencer marketing. Lee’s session, “Big Brand Influencer Marketing: Trends & Best Practices,” had the flight deck packed with eager marketers from brands big and small as well as agencies, all looking for insight to define, refine or inspire their influencer marketing journey. While Lee covered influencer marketing trends, tools and interesting B2B and B2C case studies, much of the presentation focused on five best practices for creating a dynamic influencer marketing program with the perfect balance of great content and strong influencer relationships. What are those five best practices? Read on to find out.

#1 – Goal Setting

Goal setting is part of a responsible marketer’s DNA. Your objectives are the foundation of your marketing strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. When it comes to goal setting for influencer marketing, Lee believes that means thinking about all of the possibilities and then drilling down into specific, measureable goals.

#2 – Smart Influencer Engagement

As Lee said: “There are a lot of cowboys out there. … A lot of people are just shooting from the hip when it comes to influencer marketing.” When it comes to engaging with the influencers you want to create relationships with, you should absolutely be a little wild and free to pique interest, but at the right times. Lee told the story of his first influencer content project, in which he reached out to about marketing influencers with several questions for them to answer, and not necessarily tailored to their expertise. As you can imagine, the response wasn’t great. He then walked the room through what he called the “Confluence Romance,” a kind of framework that helps you make connections, get on the radar, build and maintain relationships with influencers. The “steps” he outlined were:

  1. Follow and interact with influencers on social channels
  2. Recognize influencers on a featured list or blog post
  3. Invite influencers to share a quote or a one-on-one interview
  4. Use that interview or quote content as modular content to repurpose and continue to share
  5. Engage with influencers in the real world
  6. Invite them to become a VIP influencer

Of course, these steps are a bit nuanced and not one-size-fits-all, and need to be tailored to your brand, objectives and resources. But either way, it can serve as a helpful guide.

#3 – Co-Creation

Lee is an avid fan of co-creating content with influencers. As he’s been known to say: “If you want your content to be great, ask influencers to participate.” Influencers add perspective, insight and credibility, and in return you get to create an awesome piece of content that makes them look great. For co-creation magic, Lee’s top tips were picking a very specific topic so you can easily match the best-fit influencers, and weaving influencers into your content planning. “You always make sure that your content is accountable to targeted keywords, so why not also make your content accountable to influencers?” Lee asked rhetorically.

#4 – Amplification

At the end of the day, most marketers hope their influencer relationships and the content they’ve built with influencers is seen. And that’s where amplification comes in. As for some best practices for this best practice, Lee offered up several. My favorite was openly sharing your content and marketing objective with the influencer. While some marketers may hesitate to do something like that, Lee believes that cluing influencers in on the purpose will give them the opportunity to be more effective.

#5 – Measurement

Marketers know that measurement is key to understanding how your marketing efforts are performing, as well as if you’ve reached your objectives. When it comes to influencer marketing, Lee suggested three different metrics to pay attention to:

  • Influencer performance
  • Influencer community performance
  • Overall content performance

You Can Get Aboard the Enterprise, Too

Even if you were unable to attend CMWorld, you can still get insight and inspiration from Lee’s session. His presentation is available on SlideShare. Stay tuned for more #CMWorld coverage and insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow myself and the rest of our on-the-ground team members on Twitter at: @CaitlinMBurgess, @Tiffani_Allen, @leeodden, @knutesands, @NiteWrites, @amywhiggins and @azeckman.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Live Chat Best Practices for Conversion Rate Optimization

As many as three-quarters of website visitors abandon their shopping carts, and nearly 50 percent bounce from your site. Wouldn’t it be great if you could read your website visitors’ body language while they are browsing — and better understand which visitors you can profitably engage with…

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Live Video Tools: The Best Apps for Going Live

Are you planning to start a live video show? Want to know which tools you’ll need to broadcast live? To explore the best live video apps and software to produce your own live show, I interview Ian Anderson Gray. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Best Practices for Building an On-Demand Content Strategy

We are now in the age of the self-educated buyer. Two-thirds of buyers complete their decision-making before they contact a sales rep. They take in content in their own way, on their own time. To deal with this new reality, you must have an effective on-demand content strategy that puts your…

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6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads

The rise of the internet, digital technologies and social media platforms have transformed the way consumers make purchasing decisions—and not just for B2C consumers, but for B2B as well. In fact, according to CEB, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through a purchasing decision before engaging with a sales rep.

But, as a savvy B2B marketer, you already knew all this. So, you’ve designed an integrated strategy featuring a hearty mix of marketing tactics to help build trust and awareness as prospects do their research. You’re turning out thoughtful, relevant content that informs, engages and inspires action. You’re working with industry influencers to add credibility and authority to your efforts. Heck, you’re even driving what you believe are solid marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

However, there’s a problem: The leads you’re generating in aren’t translating into sales. What’s a savvy marketer to do? You know this, too—it’s time to double-down on nurturing those MQLs.

Simply put, MQLs are warm prospects who are not ready to make a purchasing decision yet—and lead nurturing can help you turn up the heat. And most of you are probably doing some form of lead nurturing already. According to DemandGen Report’s 2016 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, 89% of marketers use lead nurturing programs as part of their demand generation strategy. In addition, the remaining 11% said they plan to start a lead nurturing program in the next 12 months.

But whether you’re seasoned at lead nurturing or just getting started, you’re likely facing some common struggles. DemandGen Report’s study also revealed that more than half of marketers ranked “developing targeted content by buyer stage/interest” as their greatest challenge. Other top challenges included adapting to modern B2B buyer expectations, changing and unpredictable buyer behavior, and processes and workflow.

In this post, we share tips and best practices for heating up your MQL nurturing efforts, so you can build trust and relationships with prospects, and hopefully hand them off as SQLs (sales qualified leads) when the time is right.

#1 – Determine what qualifies as a qualified lead.

Every company has a different perspective on what MQLs and SQLs actually look like—and some may not differentiate between them at all. In addition, every lead is different and not all leads are created equal. Depending on your product or service, and your marketing mix and program goals, you’ll want to work with your marketing and sales team to define each lead type.

Why is this so important? At a basic level, it makes sure that everyone is on the same page and enhances communication between the two departments. But perhaps more importantly, understanding the differences between the two helps you craft a more effective strategy—and ultimately—help you serve up higher-quality sales-ready leads.

Read: Want Better Leads? 7 Tips for Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment

#2 – Make sure you have a deep understanding of your target customer.

It’s no secret that audience and customer knowledge is the foundation of all marketing initiatives. If you want to create relevant content that nurtures them throughout their journey, you need to understand your audience’s pain points, what they care about, how they like to get information, and what influences their purchasing decisions.

If you don’t already have them, build out customer personas that define who your ideal customers are—and what they look like at each stage of the sales funnel. Ask yourself:

  • What are the common characteristics of my best and worst customers?
  • What are their content preferences, search phrases, social networks, and the types of products or services they buy or “like”?
  • What does my ideal customer look like at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel?

Read: Adele Revella Weighs In On Connecting B2B Content to Customers

#3 – Understand where your leads are in the sales funnel.

The modern customer journey is far from linear and requires multiple touch points throughout the sales funnel. When it comes to your bucket of MQLs, while they’ve signaled their interest through some type of conversion, that doesn’t mean they’re sales-ready. As a result, you need to make an effort to map your leads to a specific area of the sales funnel if you want to nurture them properly.

For example, for new leads—such as those that have just converted for the first time through a download or newsletter signup—they’re likely pretty new to your brand. As a result, the content you use to nurture may include tactical blog posts, curated third-party articles and long-form thought leadership pieces aimed at engagement.

Leverage your MQL and SQL definitions, customer personas and any analytics data you have to audit your existing list of MQLs. This gives you important insights into where you stand with prospects, and can help you plan you segment your list to create nurture more effectively.

When it comes to segmenting or categorizing your list, it may seem like a daunting task. If you’ve been building your list for many years, it will take a bit of work—but it’s worth it. In addition, begin incorporating and requiring segmentation information in your lead capture forms. This ensures that new audience members are categorized appropriately from the start.

Depending on your prospect base and how the information will be used you can include simple qualifiers such as:

  • Company Name
  • Title
  • Area of Interest

Read: Is Your Content Marketing Designed for the New Customer Journey?

#4 – Audit your existing content for repurposing opportunities.

Chances are that your team has a huge portfolio of existing content. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Content isn’t King. It’s the Kingdom.” So why not get the most out of the kingdom you’ve built?

Take an inventory of your existing content, paying special attention to the unicorns—the content that is generating the awesome traffic, engagement and helping move people to the next step. Then look for ways to repurpose and personalize the content in ways that maps to your leads at every stage of the funnel.

Read: 5 Magical Tactics for Repurposing B2B Marketing Content

#5 – If you’re new to lead nurturing, start small.

This one’s pretty simple. If you’re just beginning to dip your toe in the lead nurturing waters, don’t dive head-first just yet.

Get started by launching a single campaign such as a bi-monthly newsletter or monthly offer for all leads. By starting small, you can get something in front of your prospects right away and keep your brand top-of-mind.

Read: 5 Elements of a Successful Email Based Lead Nurturing Program

#6 – Invest in marketing automation software when it makes sense.

Marketing automation software from vendors like Marketo and HubSpot can be an incredible lead nurturing tool. However, if your lead nurturing program is relatively young, don’t spring for marketing automation software right away. Marketing automation software is an investment that requires budget, and the appropriate resources to execute effectively.

When it’s time to scale your lead nurturing program, ask yourself the following questions to help you make the right decision:

  • What is the organizational goal you hope to achieve with marketing automation?
  • What is the health of your current database? (Hopefully, your recent audit can help you answer this one.)
  • What content assets are available? (Again, your work up to this point should help you answer this.)
  • Do you have the resources to dedicate to the planning, implementation and measurement of a marketing automation system?
  • Are sales and marketing aligned?
  • What does success look like?

Read: How to Avoid Marketing Automation Disaster: 6 Essential Pre-Planning Steps

Ready. Set. Nurture.

At the end of the day, your marketing efforts aim to drive leads that have a high chance of turning into paying customers. But without effective lead nurturing, valuable prospects will inevitably slip through the cracks or find your competitor.

Use these best practices to bolster your integrated marketing strategy, build relationships with your prospects, achieve marketing ROI and eventually deliver your sales team with better quality leads.

What are your biggest lead nurturing challenges? How are you working to overcome them? Tell us in the comments section.


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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

SEO Best Practices for Canonical URLs + the Rel=Canonical Tag – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

If you’ve ever had any questions about the canonical tag, well, have we got the Whiteboard Friday for you. In today’s episode, Rand defines what rel=canonical means and its intended purpose, when it’s recommended you use it, how to use it, and sticky situations to avoid.

SEO best practices for canonical URLs

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re going to chat about some SEO best practices for canonicalization and use of the rel=canonical tag.

Before we do that, I think it pays to talk about what a canonical URL is, because a canonical URL doesn’t just refer to a page upon which we are targeting or using the rel=canonical tag. Canonicalization has been around, in fact, much longer than the rel=canonical tag itself, which came out in 2009, and there are a bunch of different things that a canonical URL means.

What is a “canonical” URL?

So first off, what we’re trying to say is this URL is the one that we want Google and the other search engines to index and to rank. These other URLs that potentially have similar content or that are serving a similar purpose or perhaps are exact duplicates, but, for some reason, we have additional URLs of them, those ones should all tell the search engines, “No, no, this guy over here is the one you want.”

So, for example, I’ve got a canonical URL, ABC.com/a.

Then I have a duplicate of that for some reason. Maybe it’s a historical artifact or a problem in my site architecture. Maybe I intentionally did it. Maybe I’m doing it for some sort of tracking or testing purposes. But that URL is at ABC.com/b.

Then I have this other version, ABC.com/a?ref=twitter. What’s going on there? Well, that’s a URL parameter. The URL parameter doesn’t change the content. The content is exactly the same as A, but I really don’t want Google to get confused and rank this version, which can happen by the way. You’ll see URLs that are not the original version, that have some weird URL parameter ranking in Google sometimes. Sometimes this version gets more links than this version because they’re shared on Twitter, and so that’s the one everybody picked up and copied and pasted and linked to. That’s all fine and well, so long as we canonicalize it.

Or this one, it’s a print version. It’s ABC.com/aprint.html. So, in all of these cases, what I want to do is I want to tell Google, “Don’t index this one. Index this one. Don’t index this one. Index this one. Don’t index this one. Index this one.”

I can do that using this, the link rel=canonical, the href telling Google, “This is the page.” You put this in the header tag of any document and Google will know, “Aha, this is a copy or a clone or a duplicate of this other one. I should canonicalize all of my ranking signals, and I should make sure that this other version ranks.”

By the way, you can be self-referential. So it is perfectly fine for ABC.com/a to go ahead and use this as well, pointing to itself. That way, in the event that someone you’ve never even met decides to plug in question mark, some weird parameter and point that to you, you’re still telling Google, “Hey, guess what? This is the original version.”

Great. So since I don’t want Google to be confused, I can use this canonicalization process to do it. The rel=canonical tag is a great way to go. By the way, FYI, it can be used cross-domain. So, for example, if I republish the content on A at something like a Medium.com/@RandFish, which is, I think, my Medium account, /a, guess what? I can put in a cross-domain rel=canonical telling them, “This one over here.” Now, even if Google crawls this other website, they are going to know that this is the original version. Pretty darn cool.

Different ways to canonicalize multiple URLs

There are different ways to canonicalize multiple URLs.

1. Rel=canonical.

I mention that rel=canonical isn’t the only one. It’s one of the most strongly recommended, and that’s why I’m putting it at number one. But there are other ways to do it, and sometimes we want to apply some of these other ones. There are also not-recommended ways to do it, and I’m going to discuss those as well.

2. 301 redirect.

The 301 redirect, this is basically a status code telling Google, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to take /b, I’m going to point it to /a. It was a mistake to ever have /b. I don’t want anyone visiting it. I don’t want it clogging up my web analytics with visit data. You know what? Let’s just 301 redirect that old URL over to this new one, over to the right one.”

3. Passive parameters in Google search console.

Some parts of me like this, some parts of me don’t. I think for very complex websites with tons of URL parameters and a ton of URLs, it can be just an incredible pain sometimes to go to your web dev team and say like, “Hey, we got to clean up all these URL parameters. I need you to add the rel=canonical tag to all these different kinds of pages, and here’s what they should point to. Here’s the logic to do it.” They’re like, “Yeah, guess what? SEO is not a priority for us for the next six months, so you’re going to have to deal with it.”

Probably lots of SEOs out there have heard that from their web dev teams. Well, guess what? You can end around it, and this is a fine way to do that in the short term. Log in to your Google search console account that’s connected to your website. Make sure you’re verified. Then you can basically tell Google, through the Search Parameters section, to make certain kinds of parameters passive.

So, for example, you have sessionid=blah, blah, blah. You can set that to be passive. You can set it to be passive on certain kinds of URLs. You can set it to be passive on all types of URLs. That helps tell Google, “Hey, guess what? Whenever you see this URL parameter, just treat it like it doesn’t exist at all.” That can be a helpful way to canonicalize.

4. Use location hashes.

So let’s say that my goal with /b was basically to have exactly the same content as /a but with one slight difference, which was I was going to take a block of content about a subsection of the topic and place that at the top. So A has the section about whiteboard pens at the top, but B puts the section about whiteboard pens toward the bottom, and they put the section about whiteboards themselves up at the top. Well, it’s the same content, same search intent behind it. I’m doing the same thing.

Well, guess what? You can use the hash in the URL. So it’s a#b and that will jump someone — it’s also called a fragment URL — jump someone to that specific section on the page. You can see this, for example, Moz.com/about/jobs. I think if you plug in #listings, it will take you right to the job listings. Instead of reading about what it’s like to work here, you can just get directly to the list of jobs themselves. Now, Google considers that all one URL. So they’re not going to rank them differently. They don’t get indexed differently. They’re essentially canonicalized to the same URL.

NOT RECOMMENDED

I do not recommend…

5. Blocking Google from crawling one URL but not the other version.

Because guess what? Even if you use robots.txt and you block Googlebot’s spider and you send them away and they can’t reach it because you said robots.txt disallow /b, Google will not know that /b and /a have the same content on them. How could they?

They can’t crawl it. So they can’t see anything that’s here. It’s invisible to them. Therefore, they’ll have no idea that any ranking signals, any links that happen to point there, any engagement signals, any content signals, whatever ranking signals that might have helped A rank better, they can’t see them. If you canonicalize in one of these ways, now you’re telling Google, yes, B is the same as A, combine their forces, give me all the rankings ability.

6. I would also not recommend blocking indexation.

So you might say, “Ah, well Rand, I’ll use the meta robots no index tag, so that way Google can crawl it, they can see that the content is the same, but I won’t allow them to index it.” Guess what? Same problem. They can see that the content is the same, but unless Google is smart enough to automatically canonicalize, which I would not trust them on, I would always trust yourself first, you are essentially, again, preventing them from combining the ranking signals of B into A, and that’s something you really want.

7. I would not recommend using the 302, the 307, or any other 30x other than the 301.

This is the guy that you want. It is a permanent redirect. It is the most likely to be most successful in canonicalization, even though Google has said, “We often treat 301s and 302s similarly.” The exception to that rule is but a 301 is probably better for canonicalization. Guess what we’re trying to do? Canonicalize!

8. Don’t 40x the non-canonical version.

So don’t take /b and be like, “Oh, okay, that’s not the version we want anymore. We’ll 404 it.” Don’t 404 it when you could 301. If you send it over here with a 301 or you use the rel=canonical in your header, you take all the signals and you point them to A. You lose them if you 404 that in B. Now, all the signals from B are gone. That’s a sad and terrible thing. You don’t want to do that either.

The only time I might do this is if the page is very new or it was just an error. You don’t think it has any ranking signals, and you’ve got a bunch of other problems. You don’t want to deal with having to maintain the URL and the redirect long term. Fine. But if this was a real URL and real people visited it and real people linked to it, guess what? You need to redirect it because you want to save those signals.

When to canonicalize URLs

Last but not least, when should we canonicalize URLs versus not?

I. If the content is extremely similar or exactly duplicate.

Well, if it is the case that the content is either extremely similar or exactly duplicate on two different URLs, two or more URLs, you should always collapse and canonicalize those to a single one.

II. If the content is serving the same (or nearly the same) searcher intent (even if the KW targets vary somewhat).

If the content is not duplicate, maybe you have two pages that are completely unique about whiteboard pens and whiteboards, but even though the content is unique, meaning the phrasing and the sentence structures are the same, that does not mean that you shouldn’t canonicalize.

For example, this Whiteboard Friday about using the rel=canonical, about canonicalization is going to replace an old version from 2009. We are going to take that old version and we are going to use the rel=canonical. Why are we going to use the rel=canonical? So that you can still access the old one if for some reason you want to see the version that we originally came out with in 2009. But we definitely don’t want people visiting that one, and we want to tell Google, “Hey, the most up-to-date one, the new one, the best one is this new version that you’re watching right now.” I know this is slightly meta, but that is a perfectly reasonable use.

What I’m trying to aim at is searcher intent. So if the content is serving the same or nearly the same searcher intent, even if the keyword targeting is slightly different, you want to canonicalize those multiple versions. Google is going to do a much better job of ranking a single piece of content that has lots of good ranking signals for many, many keywords that are related to it, rather than splitting up your link equity and your other ranking signal equity across many, many pages that all target slightly different variations. Plus, it’s a pain in the butt to come up with all that different content. You would be best served by the very best content in one place.

III. If you’re republishing or refreshing or updating old content.

Like the Whiteboard Friday example I just used, you should use the rel=canonical in most cases. There are some exceptions. If you want to maintain that old version, but you’d like the old version’s ranking signals to come to the new version, you can take the content from the old version, republish that at /a-old. Then take /a and redirect that or publish the new version on there and have that version be the one that is canonical and the old version exist at some URL you’ve just created but that’s /old. So republishing, refreshing, updating old content, generally canonicalization is the way to go, and you can preserve the old version if you want.

IV. If content, a product, an event, etc. is no longer available and there’s a near best match on another URL.

If you have content that is expiring, a piece of content, a product, an event, something like that that’s going away, it’s no longer available and there’s a next best version, the version that you think is most likely to solve the searcher’s problems and that they’re probably looking for anyway, you can canonicalize in that case, usually with a 301 rather than with a rel=canonical, because you don’t want someone visiting the old page where nothing is available. You want both searchers and engines to get redirected to the new version, so good idea to essentially 301 at that point.

Okay, folks. Look forward to your questions about rel=canonicals, canonical URLs, and canonicalization in general in SEO. And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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