Highlander SEO: There Can Be Only One

I’ve been on a quest to clearly define the duplicate content issue for clients and help them understand exactly how they can clean it up. My colleague PJ Fusco came up with the perfect analogy for duplicate content: The Highlander. Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod does indeed say it best: “There can be only one!”

The Highlander faced a serious challenge: four and a half centuries of fights to the death with other immortal beings. After each battle, the living immortal absorbed the life force of his defeated (and usually decapitated) foe. Our hero, The Highlander, of course prevails and consolidates all the immortal life force into himself.

Wow. It’s amazing that a movie that most people don’t care for released in 1986 sums up the whole duplicate content issue in one iconic phrase. “There can be only one.” You’re right, Connor.

But which one is THE one? And how do you find them all to fight them in the first place? And which weapons will be most effective? And seriously, absorbing the immortal life force?

Excellent questions. I’ll answer them all over the next couple of days, but let’s start with the coolest one — the concept of consolidating life force into a single immortal being by slaying all of its foes. Sure makes canonicalization sound cool, right? And really, it is.

Canonicalization in SEO is the process of choosing a single version of a URL from multiple duplicate versions of the URL, and forcing them all to point back to the single chosen URL — the canonical URL. So basically, pick the strongest URL and point the others to that single strongest URL to make it even stronger. Sounds JUST like The Highlander, right?

I’ll detail the following questions in my next post. Stay tuned.

  1. How do you discover the complete universe of duplicate content on a site?
  2. How do you determine if it’s really an issue?
  3. How do you choose the canonical version?
  4. What options are available to canonicalize duplicate URLs?
  5. What if I can’t do that on my site?

Last but not least, this fine movie is on sale at Amazon for $7.99. Figured I’d give them the link as a photo credit for borrowing the DVD image. Seriously, though, every geek needs to have The Highlander in their DVD library.

Web PieRat logo.

Originally posted on Web PieRat.