Part 6 in the SEO Death Series
While we love Local SEO, a good portion of our clients are large non-local sites with a lot of technical SEO challenges. Today I’d like to talk about the dreaded Virtual Canonical Loop, an obscure technical issue that will absolutely kill your organic traffic, regardless of how big/small your site is. Here’s how it works.
You have a URL that canonicalizes to another, say https://www.site.com canonicalizes to http:www.site.com. So in the source of https://www.site.com you see:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.site.com”>
No big deal. Pretty standard.
Unfortunately, http://www.site.com 301 redirects to https://www.site.com. That in and of itself is no big deal. Canonicalizing http to https or vice-versa is a best practice to ward off duplication problems.
The problem is that when you canonicalize to a URL that 301 redirects back to the URL that is canonicalizing to it, Googlebot and Bingbot act like kid on a tilt-a-whirl after eating a giant corn dog, a slushee and some deep-fried oreos. That’s SEO blogger for “pukes all over you”. So you experience something like:
Besides getting covered with amusement park vomit, other maladies that Virtual Canonical Loops can cause include:
- inability to rank for brand queries
- massive reduction in organic rankings
- a royal reaming out by your boss
- loss of job
The fix is to either remove the canonical tag or turn off the redirect. I prefer removing the canonical.
If you experience a Virtual Canonical Loop for more than four hours, please consult your SEO consultant. Individual results may vary. Void where prohibited.