Is Case Sensitivity Causing your Duplicate Content?

Posted by Jenn Johnson on Sep 19, 2014 10:16:00 AM

Written by Jenn Johnson & Keely Ledebur

Would you believe just tapping that shift key to create a capital letter in your URL could be the culprit to your duplicate content issues?

If Google can find your web page using multiple versions of your URL, then you risk Google indexing all the variations (such as www.yourdomain.com/This-Page/ and www.yourdomain.com/this-page/).

Why is that an issue? Foremost, if both URLs actually display the same page you could be in jeopardy of a duplicate content penalty. In addition, think of the 2 pages competing against each other. They will share all incoming links and authority while also skewing your analytics data. You’ll save a lot of headaches by following a consistent naming convention in the development of all new pages on your site.

Some developers will never sway from the lowercase only rule while others say it’s just important to stay consistent. Google doesn’t have a preference of case for URLs mentioning that it is not a ranking factor. So what advice can we give you to reduce the likelihood of your URLs ending up indexed with case sensitive variations?

  1. Test your server. Windows servers are not typically case sensitive and will display the page however a visitor types in the URL. Linux servers will display a 404 not found page for the incorrect version of the URL.
  2. Determine a URL naming convention that you’ll use throughout the site. Remember to be consistent with all your internal links.
  3. If you’re concerned about external links to alternate case versions of your URLs, consider creating 301 redirects to the correct version or using a URL rewrite program.
  4. Use canonicals. Adding the tag (<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.yourdomain.com/test-page/" />) to the header of the page tells Google your preferred URL should multiple variations be found .
  5. Have a conversation with your webmaster and web development team to make certain everyone is on the same page. Communication is important in the S.E.O industry and may eliminate potential problems down the road.

If your rankings are struggling, start with the basics. Check your URLs to see if case sensitivity may be causing the issue and devise a plan to fix the problem.

Topics: SEO Myths, Search Engine Optimization, Friday Funk, Content Development, Search Engine News, Recommended Reading