Ah Links; the stuff many misguided SEO consultants to be the end-all to ranking in the Search Engines.

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5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic

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I recently wrote an article for the company I work for, entitled “5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website” and it’s pretty powerful stuff.

Even if you are not in the Vacation Rental industry, these SEO or Search Engine Optimization methods and logic, that I go into great detail about in the article, are extremely beneficial to most industries.

My boss even gave me accolades in our meetings – it’s gotten the most re-Tweets, the most shares, the most likes and so on, compared to any other one thus far on the site, so please go read it. ๐Ÿ™‚

5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website

Do You Like Facebook Reactions?

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Ever come across a tear-jerking video or post on that well-known social media giant, Facebook, and struggle with how to digitally react?

Sure. Everyone has. You don’t necessary Like that a friend’s family-member is in the hospital, but you want to show support and give the post a boost, with the hopes of others will see it – be notified, share emotional support, etc.

Liking something just doesn’t seem to cover many emotional reactions we may have to a story.

Facebook has finally upped their game in this area.

They’ve now introduced more post reactions. If you hover your mouse over the "Like" link, you’re now presented with additional options.

There’s the Thumbs-Up, representing the typical Like. But now you also have Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, along with their acompanying cute emoticons.

But this has been released for a few weeks now, actually. And although I, personally, have been making use of the new choices, I am only seeing slight traction from others. What say you? Are you using them? Do you Like them?

For the Researcher in You

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I was doing a bit of research for my Northern Shaolin Kung Fu students recently and had a fairly eye-opening revelation.

To be honest – this little enlightenment is really positive, as it opens up new sources of information and at the same time it’s also quite frustrating.

Why frustrating? Well because it opens up new sources of information and a bit of overwhelm may ensue. ๐Ÿ˜›

As we all know, Wikipedia is user-generated content – a community-built encyclopedia of sorts, with editorial guidelines, restrictions and moderation systems (somewhat) in place.

And just a quck glance of its logo tells us that it is also translated into many different languages.

However, it is NOT merely translated into different languages.

There is different information in different languages for the same entries – sometimes more, sometimes less but usually different.

Translating NASA

For example, go to the English entry for NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

Scroll down to the last paragraph just before the big "Contents" link box and look at the last link in that paragraph; the anchor text is "Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite," and it points to a page with a fair amount of information and links about this satellite, also known as "Ibuki." On this page, we also learn that Ibuki was operated and launched by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, known as JAXA.

Next, go to the Spanish entry for NASA and look at the last link before the "Contents" box. You will see "Agencia Japonesa de Exploraciรณn Aeroespacial." And that is a link to the Spanish entry for "JAXA."

A logical argument could be made, initially, for sentence construction; that perhaps the last sentence in both languages in this paragraph contain all of the same links to their respective language entries, but just in a different order, due to their respective language rules.

However, all it takes is a quick scan through the sentences to see that this is not, in fact, the case.

Fun with Lincoln

Let’s look at another example in a different way.

Look at the English entry for Abraham Lincoln. And then the German entry for Abraham Lincoln.

And now all you have to do is look on the right hand side of each page, at the photos and scroll down. You’ll see the difference.

But, But, But…

And before you give me all of the reasons why you think I am wrong… Try it out yourself. Search for any topic, open a window or tab for the English version and do it again. Then just change the "en" at the beginning of the URL (this specifies English, for example) to another language or region – de for Germany, es for Spain, etc. And look at what you find; run your own little experiments.

Conclusion

My point?

Different people are getting different information on topics, based on language or part of the world they are in. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but definitely different.

There are many people who are unaware of the fact that Wikipedia is content created by its users. And many more, like myself, are under the impression that the various language entries are merely translations of English.

I am not attempting to make some sort of social justice comment here. What I am saying is this: If you are researching a topic and want more – consider alternative languages. It has its benefits.

It’s paying of for me already. My topical search that gave birth to this revelation has now given me much more interesting information on the topic from merely looking up the Italian entry. Now after I search through all of this new data, I can’t help but wonder what the Spanish entry will give me. Or the French. Or South African, or…!?!

It’s exciting, if not a bit overwhelming.

Simple Social Icons – Add or Re-order in 9 Simple Steps

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Simple Social Icons Fontello

For the Short and Sweet instructions, Click Here. Otherwise, read on.

You’re running a WordPress site and wanted some cool "Follow Me" social icons your users could click on and get social.

So you install the Simple Social Icons plugin (especially if you’ve got a Genesis theme). The plugin is easy-to-use and cool, but…

You soon realize that there’s no options for re-ordering the icons or adding new ones, like Yelp. ๐Ÿ™

You search online and find links to a few tutorials. Only…They ask you to become a paid member in order to read the tutorial!

This happened to me on a recent site re-design, so after digging around I figured it out and thought I would share. For Free.

Remember: If the plugin is updated, you will have to do this all over again. Unless the developers build in the options in a new release.

Point to remember: The "image" used to link to a site = an icon = a font (think like the font Wingdings) = a Glyph.

The Nine Simple Steps – Detailed Version

Simple Social Icons Plugin Editor

WordPress Plugin editor simple social icons

In the back-end Admin area of your WordPress site, go to Plugins - Editor. Select Simple Social Icons from the drop-down box on the top right and click "Select".

Click on simple-social-icons/simple-social-icons.php.

Open a new tab in your browser and go to www.fontello.com

Open your preferred code editing software. Mine is Dreamweaver. You could also just use Notepad or something similar for this, and use the Edit – Find functions to locate the bits that you will need to work with.

Get your preferred FTP software handy (I use FilezillaIt’s Free :)). If you rely on cPanel, for uploading files, open up a new tab and get it ready.

Write down / type up a complete list of all the sites / icons you will want. Decide what order you want the icons to be in. If you only need to add one site, then there’s no need for this.

Fontello's SERPs for Yelp

Fontello Search – Yelp

Go to the browser tab with www.fontello.com.

Type the name of the first site into the search bar. For example, yelp. The search functionality happens as you type and it will show a list of available icons for this site. In the yelp example, it pulled up two: Font Awesome and Zocial. Pick one and click it.

Look over at the red button on the right, labeled "Download webfont". You should now see it saying (1). This number will increase each time you select one, like a shopping cart.

Go back over to the search box and type in your next one. Click the one you want & Download number goes up. Continue doing this until you have all you need.

If you forget which ones you have selected, click on "Customize Names" and you can see a list. You may have noticed there are many icons available, with only a small percentage being the social website ones.

So if you see one you like (that’s not a website) and select it, make sure you come to the "Customize Names" area, click on the icon’s name after "icon-" and give it a name that you can remember.

You might have to do this anyway on some of them. For example, the name of Flickr’s icon is icon-dot-2, which will probably be hard to remember – even if the icon is actually two dots; so I’d change it to icon-Flickr, but it’s up to you.

Now, once you have all of the ones you want selected, click on "Download webfont (number of icons)".

Save the downloaded zip file somewhere you can easily access it.

Extract the contents to a similarly-accessible location. I tend to use my desktop for temporary use / immediately-available files.

Go to your code editor and open /font/fontello.svg from the folder you downloaded & extracted.

The majority of the code is comprised of <glyph> tags.

There should be one <glyph> tag for every site/icon that you selected and downloaded from fontello.com. But they might not be in the order that you want them in.

Although the order here does not affect the order on your site, it would help to put them in the proper order to make things easier on yourself.

So just take each complete tag, for example:

<glyph glyph-name="youtube" unicode="&#xe800;" d="…numbers, letters, dashes…" horiz-adv-x="857.1" />

and copy and paste them in the order that you want and then save the file but don’t close it.

We will be going back and forth between our the plugin editor in our browser and this file.

Any time you are editing code, be very careful what you select, copy, paste. Moving or deleting any parenthesis, semi-colon, etc. that you don’t need to, will potentially break your site.

Save your work.

Go over to the browser tab with the plugin editor opened to simple-social-icons/simple-social-icons.php.

Luckily, the plugin developers commented their code, so it’s very easy to find what we need to work with.

Scroll down through the page and take a look. PHP comments are usually labels saying "This is what this bit of code below will do" and looks like this:

	  /**
	  * Default widget option values.
	  */

There are three blocks of code that we will be working with, each labelled by a comment above it. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, use the browser’s built-in Edit-Find functionality.

  1. Default widget option values.
    This creates an instance of each of our icons.
  2. Social profile glyphs.
    This assigns each icon name a font number; it’s how our fontello.svg file & this file work together.
  3. Social profile choices.
    This sets up the HTML code (and individual classes for CSS) to display each icon link on the front-end of your site.

We want each of these code blocks & icons to be in the same order as we set up over in fontello.svg.

Let’s look at the first code block, "Default widget option values.".

The first 12 or so lines establish the default CSS values. I wouldn’t suggest messing with these – just use the regular Admin options or CSS to change them. You can if you want, but these values will be the norm defaults.

After that, we start getting into the names of the actual icons.

The one that is listed in my code first is 'bloglovin' => '',. But let’s say I wanted Yelp to be first on my list, as I’ve ordered them in fontello.svg. I would select that line of code and copy. Then put my cursor in front of it and hit enter (re-adjust the spacing) and paste that bit in the new line. And then I’d change the bloglovin text to yelp. Do this for the whole list.

Scroll down to the next code block, "Social profile glyphs." and do the same thing – place the lines of code in the desired order.

Next, we need to edit the values for each icon in this code block. Go back to fontello.svg (you should have been going back & forth between these two anyway, to help you with the order) and look at your first <glyph> tag. Each tag has four attributes, but we are only interested in the first two: glyph-name and unicode.


<glyph glyph-name="bloglovin" unicode="&#xe800;" d="…numbers, letters, dashes…" horiz-adv-x="857.1" />

Grab the unicode value, go back to the plugin-editor screen and paste it into the spot between the single quotes for the relevant glyph. Be sure to include the & (ampersand), # (hash mark) and ; (semi-colon), but not double or single quotes. Do this for the whole list.

Scroll down to the next code block, "Social profile choices." and place the lines of code in the desired order.

Be Careful. An entire section here looks like this:

				'bloglovin' => array(
				'label'   => __( 'Bloglovin URI', 'ssiw' ),
				'pattern' => '<li class="social-bloglovin"><a href="%s" %s>' . $this->glyphs['bloglovin'] . '</a></li>',
			),

Take note of the single quotes and especially the parenthesis + comma at the end.

Use the same process for those custom or newly-created glyphs; grab a block of relevant code, copy & paste it where it belongs in the list. Then change all the name values to be the proper ones, including the li class. There are four places in each block of code where the name should be changed.

If you want to edit the output HTML, go for it. If you’re not familiar with HTML and/or PHP, I’d just leave them alone and only move the code segments and edit the text.

Save the file.

We’re done with the hard part. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can close your code editor program after you save your work.

Go to your FTP program or cPanel. Navigate to the plugin folder /wp-content/plugins/simple-social-icons/.

Go to the folder you downloaded and extracted. Move the file config.json into the plugin’s font folder. Yes, you want to replace the one that is currently there with the new one you downloaded.

Don’t worry about the CSS folder.

Move the font folder over to the plugin root folder on your site, replacing the old one.

Close your FTP and code editor programs.

In the Admin area of your site, go to Appearance – Widgets. Drag and Drop the Simple Social Icons widget where you want it. Check it out! There’s your new site inputs and with everything in the right order.

Go to the front end of your site and make sure to flush your browser cache. And then voila! New Simple Social Icons in the order you want, customized the way you want!

The Nine Simple Steps – Short Version

SHORT & SWEET

  1. Go to www.fontello.com
  2. Select icons, Customize the names, Download and Extract
  3. Open /font/fontello.svg in editor & reorder glyph tags
  4. Go to WordPress Admin – Plugins – Editor – Simple Social Icons – simple-social-icons.php. See 3 blocks of relevant code. Reorder & Add/Edit text values.
  5. Replace Unicode values in plugin file with those in the downloaded fontello.svg.
  6. Edit HTML & CSS classes to your liking
  7. Replace config.json in plugin’s font folder with downloaded one (it’s in the root)
  8. Replace font folder with the one you downloaded – ignore CSS folder
  9. Flush browser cache and have fun!

Pagination and Duplicate Content in SEO

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Pagination Duplicate Content and SEO

Pagination and Duplicate Content in SEO

Pagination and Duplicate Content is a very real issue within SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Pagination is basically breaking up long "stuff" into shorter chunks, with a navigation system to move on to the next or previous piece.

Duplicate Content means pretty much what you’d expect it to mean, however…

Let’s look at what these things are, how they interact, what they have to do with SEO and what best practice to put into place.


Pagination

Wikipedia defines it this way:

Pagination as the process of dividing (content) into discrete pages, either electronic pages or printed pages.


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Paginated content exists all across the internet. Websites paginate in different ways. For example:

  • Long articles divided into several shorter pages
  • eCommerce sites might divide a list of products in a large category into pages
  • Forums often divide threads into URLs of a sequence

Duplicate Content

Wikipedia defines it this way:

Duplicate Content as a term used in the field of search engine optimization to describe content that appears on more than one web page. The duplicate content can be substantial parts of the content within or across domains and can be either exactly duplicate or closely similar. When multiple pages within a web site contain essentially the same content, search engines such as Google can penalise or cease displaying that site in any relevant search results.


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Interaction and SEO Effects

When you take a look at your average SERP, you’re looking at a list of (hopefully relevant) pages. That word, pages is key here. It’s what we optimize in SEO – pages.

Each page should have unique titles, descriptions, and most importantly, content.

So if you break up a long article across several pages, won’t each and every one of those pages have the exact same title, description, etc.? And that, my friends, is the rub.

What Google Says

In short, there are three things that Google says you can do in order to use Paginated Content and still whoop tail at SEO:

  1. Specify a View All page
  2. Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links
  3. Do Nothing

Specify a View All Page

Google attempts to detect the View All version of our content and, if available, its associated component pages. However, to make it more explicit, you can include rel="canonical" from your component pages to your view-all page to increase the chances that your series of pages are found.

Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links

Google’s default is to search for a View All page. However, if you’d like to override this, or if you don’t have a View All page, then using the rel="next" and rel="prev" links would be your best bet.

Let’s look at an implementation example. On the site, www.example.com, there could be an article titled abc and is broken down into three pages.

On the second page, http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2, in the <head> section, you would put:

<link rel="prev" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1" />
<link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3" />

Do Nothing

Um… What?

That’s right. Doing nothing is actually a viable alternative in the eyes of Google.

The reason? Paginated content is extremely common, and Google will still attempt to return the most relevant results, regardless of content’s pagination or lack thereof.

My Take

So out of these three options, what would I do?

Sorry but I’m not opting for doing nothing.

I’d honestly suggest doing both of options one and two. Create a View All page for your users; I imagine this may come in handy in other ways as well.

And also use rel="next" and rel="prev" links. This overrides the Google View All default, giving you complete control over Duplicate Content issues, but allows your creation of the View All page to help your users.

Keep in mind, however, that when using the rel="next" and rel="prev" links, they need to be complete and correct; one mis-step and Google will pop back into its default search for the View All page.

And here’s a handy little video from Google putting all this into perspective.

Anchors AWeigh – A Name is Not an Anchor

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Anchors Aweigh

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and links go hand-in-hand. That’s why we hear so much about it all over the internet: blogs, forums, groups, social media – you name it; everywhere you look, somebody is talking about "link juice", "link bait", how to build links, optimizing links, etc.

And sometimes you hear about navigation and usability. But rarely do we hear about Anchors.

Today we are going to look at a very specific type of internal linking: local navigation.

Once you understand the true creation of a link, how to use Anchors and they are can be important, you’ll be shouting "Anchors Aweigh!"

Okay, maybe not, but at least you’ll be a bit wiser. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wikipedia defines an Internal Link as "a hyperlink that is a reference or navigation element in a document to another section of the same document or to another document that may be on or part of the same website or domain of the internet."

We know about this. It’s what makes up our navigation systems.

We know about usability factors of allowing the user to get where they want in the least number of clicks possible (and if you didn’t – we’re trying to make it easy for them).

We also know about the SEO factors of supposed page rank, link weight, authority, silos, no dead links, anchor text, etc.

But Wait! I just said "anchor text" and yet the title of this post is "A Name is Not an Anchor". Confused? Read on.

Structure of a Link

In any link within your opening angled brackets you place the letter "a" along with various attributes and values of the Anchor element, and the text for the link (known as Anchor Text), followed by the closing tags.

A very simple link might look like this:

<a href="http://www.craigkiessling.com">Atlanta SEO Services</a>

Let’s look at what that means. The brackets simply denote an HTML tag. The "A" at the beginning designates the word Anchor. Just like a boat, it holds down a certain place, but here in the online context. This anchor could be a place within the document we are currently reading. It could be a completely different document within our own library (or website) or perhaps some other library. Or perhaps it could be a specific spot within our own library.

The "href" bit means "HyperText Reference". It is where we usually put the URL or URI. The address or the location of the web site, page, file, image, or whatever it is – that we want to link to.

How about a little more complex link? Got that too:

<a href="http://www.craigkiessling.com" class="SEO-Link" name="Atlanta SEO Services" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Atlanta SEO Services</a>

And now let’s look at this. The items that are the same as the previous example we do not need to discuss. "Class=" tells us that this link should be labeled as having the class "SEO-Link", and whatever styling we set up for the class of that name n our CSS should be applied to this link (or any other with that same class name; ids are unique but classes are not). Then we have the "Name" attribute. This something that was pretty cool back in the day; you could name your links, name your link destinations. Great for usability and SEO right? Well maybe. But with HTML5 – the most modern version of it that everyone is using – it’s deprecated; yeah it’s outta here. Then you have the "Target"

attribute of the link. This says where to open the new link – in the same browser window, or a brand new one? Here we tell it a brand new one. "Rel" is basically telling us what the Relationship is between this page and the one being linked to. Here we tell SE to bugger off – don’t follow and waste our link juice :P.

Anchors in HTML5

What do you think happens here, with a link of today’s standards?

<a href="URL" title="additional information" id="cool-name" class="pretty-cool-name">link text</a>

Technically, the "Title" attribute is suppose to give more information about the element in question; wiki says it’s suppose to give "brief" information about the link.

Problem is…Most of the crap SEO people have done with this like they’ve done with everything else – ruined it via over-stuffing of spam keywords etc.

"Class" is what we’ve talked about before – CSS styling.

But what about the ID?

Oh yeah. The "ID=". I left that one out intentionally because it can be a bit confusing. Bear with me now, we’re diving in head-first!

ID. In CSS you have classes and IDs. Classes you can use many times throughout a site, but IDs you can not.

Like if you wanted every first paragraph to have Drop-Caps for the first sentence; or every first letter of the first paragraph in each post.

But one particular paragraph you want to have special and different stylings. Well then you would give it an ID.

Now then, in most browsers, when the cursor hovers over a link, it typically changes into a hand with a stretched index finger, and the title appears in some way (varies according to browser). Some browsers render alt text the same way, though this is technically incorrect.

In HTML5, you can still use ID for extremely specific styling, But…You can also use it for naming. Why? Because as we’ve already explained they’ve gotten rid of name, and title is used for information.

A name is Not an Anchor

So here we are full-circle. Name is no longer used as a legit attribute for elements in HTML5. Title helps boost us from a SEO and Usability perspecitve. And now for styling – well my suggestion is to still use Classes, but very specifically and with the Cascading methodology. And only use IDs for what you use to use Name for.

That’s right – ID is the new name.

It helps though, for sure. You’ve seen how Google can treat a validated & well-optimized page with a variety of extra links showing up for a domain in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Page(s)).

We are use to seeing well optimized pages show up nicely like this for sites that have various pages, however did you know you can get the same results for simply having one page but broken up semantically well? Yep.

Take a look at the below search results and think on it.

Search for Shaolin Kung Fu on Google - Look at the Extra Linkage!

Rel = Canonical – What the Heck is that?

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Canonical

NOT rel=canonical

Canon:
A general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.
A member of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral, esp. a member of the chapter.
Canonical:
According to or ordered by canon law: "the canonical rites of the Roman Church".
As a Noun: The prescribed official dress of the clergy.

And what do either of these definitions have to do with SEO or even rel="Canonical", for that matter?

Nothing. Except, perhaps, for the idea of a general law, principle etc. We’ll see how in just a moment.

So when asked in a Job Interview, anything referring to the Catholic church or Catholicism is not really the correct answer; unless of course your job happens to be in that area.

So what does rel="Canonical" mean, why should you care, and how should you make the magic happen?

rel= "Canonical" – Why, What and How

Why should you care about rel="Canonical"?

Have you ever heard of duplicate content and the penalties that come along with it?

I’m sure you have. In short, Google is not a big fan of duplicate content and it could seriously hurt your rankings! Whether you have or haven’t, here’s a real-world example to give it some context:

Let’s say you’re running a site selling products (or services). And oftentimes these product pages can have exactly the same, if not similar content, but a slightly different URL. For example:


http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=alpha&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd
http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&trackingid=1234567&sort=price&sessionid=5678asfasdfasfd

As you can see, there are two different values of variables in the URL – sort=alpha and sort=price. Regardless of how they’re sorted though, you’re still looking at the same list of swedish-fish.

And they will have the same, if not similar, content. So what do we do?

We implement the rel="canonical" attribute or tag.

You need to decide which actual page has the most complete, accurate and best content for this subject, topic or page. Once you’ve done that, you need to go to all of the other possible URL pages and put in the directive to tell Google "Hey! I know this looks alot like this other page over there, but I want you just to pay attention to this one page for the content, instead of all the possible ways you could find it."

So then, in each of the non-canonical pages, or each of the pages that tell part of the story with duplicate or similar content, we need to tell Google to go to this other page for classification, like


<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish"/>

Place this in the <head></head> section of these pages – all pointing to the one page that you’d prefer to be listed in the SERPs for that content.

Oh! And here’s a couple of extra pointers regarding rel="canonical":

  • It’s preferred to use absolute links instead of relative links, when specifying the canonical.
  • Do not try to "game" the system by using this to simply rank a page higher; you will get found out. And quickly!
  • If the preferred page does not actually exist – you’re at the whim and mercy of Google.
  • To an extend, Google can follow a chain of canonicals – but if you’re trying to game the system – see the second bullet point above.
  • Yes, you can use it to point to pages on another site…But again…Hopefully you get the point.

So you’ll either have to do this manually in the pages of your website, or if you’re using WordPress as a back-end CMS or blogging platform, there is a much easier way.

WordPress SEO by Yoast is an outstanding plug-in to say the least, with all of its wonderful functionality.

And one such piece of functionality is about rel="Canonical"!

After you’ve installed and activated the plug-in, go into your Page or Post that you need to get Canonical on, and scroll down past the content area into the box supplied by the plug-in.

Click on the "Advanced" tab, scroll down a wee-bit and there you have it: a form field labeled "Canonical URL". That’s where you would paste in the URL for the page that has the most complete and accurate content that you’d prefer Google to index and show on the SERPs for this topic’s search query.

Well folks, that’s it. Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit about rel="Canonical", why you should use it, and how to do so.

Oh and by the way, there is a way to use this for the whole www.website.com vs. website.com battle too.

Have you figured out how?