We’ve known since 2009 that Google fully supports the cross domain rel=canonical and more recently it has transpired that the canonical may be faster and more effective than a 301, the traditional way for SEO’s to point the right link juice at the right places.
Seriously, there are a number of ways this can be used to boost SEO efforts and deliver the right signals to the right pages.
Getting Social Signals To Boring Pages
If you run an ecommerce site selling ‘dog leads’ you are likely going to struggle to get any social attention, however now Twitter and Facebook links are part of the algo, and from what we are seeing a pretty significant factor, you really want to be leveraging this to boost your rankings, so what do you do?
Well, start by making sure you have a blog with all the usual social buttons, write a post, something catchy with lot’s of images, ‘5 most expensive dog leads’… maybe.
Push this around your social power accounts, share it on Twitter, Facebook, Stumble etc…… Now this post has plenty of social POW, all helping it rank 🙂
But hold on, the page we really want to rank higher is our ‘Premium Leads’ range 🙁
So…. We simply use the canonical tag to pass on all that lovely social juice! The User get’s the quirky content but Google credits your premium range.
Now this could be considered a little bit ‘grey hat’ but you could put things in place to minimise any risk, ‘This post was written on the back of research by our Premium Leads department’… I think you know what I am getting at.
Building Links Before Products Hit
My fellow SEO and colleague at Branded3 gave a great presentation on getting the most out of SEO specifically for Ecommerce sites, part of the presentation focussed on building links to blog posts targeting products that you know are coming to the market place but not yet released.
When it comes to new product releases Google seem to have a ‘first past the post’ rule, if you get the best page up and linked to the quickest then you win in the long run.
So you optimise and link to the blog posts months before it is launched and then 301 once the actual product page is live! Geniuous and works well, trust me.
However the user loses that smashing post on the blog, well they do if you 301 but if the canonical works better, hey presto!
Of course this leaves the door wide open to manipulation and there are many who would consider the above, grey if not black hat, however the fact remains it works well and Google allow it, at least for now.
SEO’s have been buying canonical links for ages, however with this recent research you can bet it is going to become more and more common. Are Google going to start punishing sites that buy canonical links 🙂