Posts Tagged ‘ search engines

Google & Bing Disagree On Rel=Canonical Implementation

Google vs Bing Rel=Canonical

Bing recently posted an article:  Managing redirects – 301s, 302s and canonicals

As someone that works with Enterprise level sites on a regular basis, I deal with duplicate content & the canonical tag a lot. What really jumped out in Duanne’s article is this (emphasis added is my own):

Something else you need to keep in mind when using the rel=canonical is that it was never intended to appear across large numbers of pages.  We’re already seeing a lot of implementations where the command is being used incorrectly.  To be clear, using the rel=canonical doesn’t really hurt you.  But, it doesn’t help us trust the signal when you use it incorrectly across thousands of pages, yet correctly across a few others on your website.

A lot of websites have rel=canonicals in place as placeholders within their page code.  Its best to leave them blank rather than point them at themselves.  Pointing a rel=canonical at the page it is installed in essentially tells us “this page is a copy of itself.  Please pass any value from itself to itself.  No need for that.

This surprised me as it contradicts what we’ve been told by Google, and also contradicts my opinions on best practices for the canonical tag. I have a deep respect for Duanne, so I’m only raising this as an issue because the rel=canonical tag is supposed to be jointly supported by Google & Bing, yet we’re getting very different direction on how it should be used.

For instance, in this Google Webmaster Help video (H/T to James Constable for the link), Matt Cutts says “it doesn’t hurt to have this on every page of your site.”

Likewise, in the Google Blog, Maile Ohye of Google says “Yes, it’s absolutely okay to have a self-referential rel=”canonical”. It won’t harm the system and additionally, by including a self-reference you better ensure that your mirrors have a rel=”canonical” to you.”

Further evidence Google says its okay to have both a self-referential rel=canonical tag as well as to use the canonical tag site-wide can be found in this SEOmoz post, as well as another Google Webmaster Help video from Matt Cutts saying its okay.

I asked some of the top SEO minds on Twitter as to their opinion, and they all seem to support the notion that is okay to use the canonical tag site-wide and include self-referential canonical tags. Here are their responses:

 @Thos003: I use rel=canonical on it’s own page to deal with URL strings. I find this article disturbing

@rbucich: of course you can! Either I don’t understand the question or the person who said no doesn’t

@ajkohn: Yes. I think rel=canonical is a safeguard for HTML barnacles that might attach themselves to the canonical URL.

@james_constable: YES it needs to for all ad tracking, parameter non sense you need to avoid dups.

@dannysullivan: i wasn’t aware this was a problem. i guess i don’t see that it is. google said it wasn’t bit.ly/pxoxwx

@halvorsen I do.

So, it seems were at an impasse – what are your thoughts – is it okay to use the rel=canonical tag sitewide? Is it okay to use the rel=canonical tag on the canonical version of the page?

Will you change your recommendations to clients (or your own sites) on how they should use the rel=canonical tag based on Bing’s latest blog post?

Your comments are appreciated.

**Update @MattCutts chimes in:

@nickroshon certainly it won’t mess things up with Google to do it on every page. Can’t speak for MSFT/Bing, of course. (link)

@nickroshon self-loops on canonical pages are fine. Otherwise you’re stuck doing per-page logic for every page; not fun. (link)

Matt Cutts tweets back

**Update 2: This post has gotten some great conversation going, and also picked up by a few other sites, so I wanted to link out to that as well. It appears the SEO community finds this to be an important issue, and it’s obvious duplicate content is the thorn in everyone’s side…thanks to all that have shared my post!

The Google Instant Announcement Parody, Xtranormal Style

Below is a parody-style recap of the Google Instant search announcement yesterday as recreated using Xtranormal. The gentleman sitting behind the desk is a fictional Danny Sullivan, and most of his quotes are lifted from tweets he made throughout the day (e.g. See, Google knows I’m not a teenage girl). The other fellow is a random “Search Noob” that pokes fun at all of the twitter commentators who kind of freaked out before fully comprehending the announcement…and lastly, the reference to Steve Rubel at the end is referring to a tweet he made that said “SEO is irrelevant” during the announcement, which definitely ruffled a lot of feathers. The “pistol whip” comment is also a subtle nod to one of my favorite movies, Super Troopers, in which Captain O’Hagan vows to pistol whip the next person to say Shenanigans, which prompts Mac to ask a leading question he knows Farva will answer with “Shenanigans.”

This is by no means meant to be disrespectful to anyone involved and is merely adding some humor to the situation, so if this offends you I am sorry in advance. To the rest of you, enjoy!

The Perfect Storm for Bing to Go Mainstream?

Bing Vs Google

This could be the perfect storm for Bing to gain market share and become a substantial threat to Google – or so we better hope.

Last week, Google and Verizon announced a deal that may very well kill net neutrality for mobile devices, as PC World reports.  This sentiment is echoed throughout the industry including this post from my colleague and industry expert Rob Garner on MediaPost. This crucial misstep has revealed Google is not a benevolent champion of free speech and internet neutrality, but that they’re no different from any other company that holds a monopoly-sized share of the market – greedy. In fact, the only real difference between Microsoft in it’s peak and Google now is that Microsoft didn’t try to pretend they were benevolent good guys, whereas Google wants you to drink the “Don’t be Evil” Kool-Aid until it poisons you. This Silicon Alley Insider article frames this phenomenon quite well.

But this isn’t all about Google making a major misstep and turning off many people (like myself) who were once Google fanatics.

For Bing to take off and truly become mainstream, they need not only a good product, but users motivated to try something new. Before, I had no reason to venture away from Google – it has always provided great results, great products (usually for free), and claimed to be the champions of the internet, free speech, and net neutrality. Why change search engines if Google has everything I need and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Now I have the motivation to change – I’m jaded with Google. Add to that, Bing (finally) has the product worth switching to (or at least trying…).

Bing has revamped their search results since former “Live” and has actually has been ahead of Google in integrating Social Media into search results, which is an increasingly important part of the internet to users. Bing was the first (and has still done the best job) at integrating Twitter into it’s search results, they were the first to add Foursquare into their Maps, they were the first to add “infinite scroll” to their Images (which Google even admits was a copy cat move of Bing here), and much more.

While Google’s algorithm is still a bit more sophisticated, Bing is also catching up in this area. To the untrained eye, Bing’s algorithm is usually pretty decent. I hate to say it, but they still have their work cut-out here…luckily Google has also been slacking recently, as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz points out the growing amount of spam in Google and the disappointing recent progress at Google in doing anything about it.

To webmasters, Bing is catching up to Google in their offerings as well. They are revamping Bing Webmaster Tools to include more useful information, and they will be integrating Yahoo Site Explorer (an invaluable tool for webmasters & SEOs alike) into the Bing Webmaster Tool suite.  Again, they still have plenty of catch up with Google’s robust offerings, but they’ve made a ton of progress and it’s a very good start.

According to Hitwise, in July Bing held 9.85% of the search share and Yahoo held 14.37%. Yahoo searches are now powered by Bing as of this morning (August 19, 2010), which means that those numbers should still be pretty accurate, implying close to a 25% market share for Bing.

That 25% market share, combined with a Google PR nightmare and a significantly improved Bing experience could be the perfect storm to disrupt Google’s smooth sailing…and let’s all hope so.

Not only is Google’s threat to net neutrality a reason to hope they have a valiant competitor, but competition itself is a good thing for both engines. I like choices. Clearly Bing’s competition has spurred Google to innovate further, in many cases stealing or building upon ideas Bing introduced first. Competition is good for everyone, and it means that Google no longer has so much power they can single-handedly undermine net neutrality. In a wierd sort of way, Microsoft could be the last hope to prevent Google from becoming an evil monopoly – who woulda thunk.

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