Tag Archives: opentext

Canonical URLs and SEO

As I recently made a foolish mistake, I thought I would share it to help others avoid it in the future.  It was to do with my quest to get certain pages of the Solution Exchange Community platform indexed in Google, Bing, and Yahoo etc.  Specifically, the valuable forum threads.

First of all, it is worth mentioning how these threads are delivered.  The forum itself is an object of the OpenText Social Communities (OTSC) product, which interacts with the Delivery Server through the OTSC XML API.

Therefore, the forum thread pages are dynamically delivered with the shell of the page being the same physical page with the content influenced by parameters.  In this case, I’ve chosen to utilise sensible URL structures that contain the parameters for simplification and SEO.  I mention more about this in this forum post.  The use of rewrite rules in this way for SEO is one of the key values of a Front Controlling Web Server.

As the shell of the page is the same, I initially had the same <title> tag for all threads and thought that this was the problem.  After changing to adapt the <title> value to the title of the forum thread (along with waiting for re-indexing to happen) there was no change.

Finally, through checking the index of Solution Exchange on Bing with a “site:” search, I noticed to my surprise that one of the threads was indexed but was associated with the URL http://www.solutionexchange.info/forum.htm!!!  This was strange due to the fact that externally, the forum thread was only accessible through a URL like http://www.solutionexchange.info/forum/thread/{ID} meaning that I must be explicitly telling the search engines the wrong URL.  

This was the clue I needed to realise that my problem was due to something I had implemented many months before.

To address the potential SEO penalty that the home page of the community was able to be reached through http://www.solutionexchange.info/ and http://www.solutionexchange.info/index.htm, I introduced the use of the following html header link tag – the example below is the home page value but I included this across the whole site:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.solutionexchange.info/index.htm" />

You can read more about this on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.  In summary, it tells the search engines that this page is to be associated with the given URL and page ranking (or “Google juice”) is to be associated with that and not the entry URL that the crawler bot used.  This avoids the possibility of page ranking for the same page being split across two or more URLs or being penalised for duplicating content across multiple URLs.

With this knowledge, I was able to update the page template that houses this dynamic content to form the correct URL within this canonical link.  Now it’s back to the waiting game to see if the indexes will pick the content and forgive me for positioning different pages as one.

Although a small detail, the end goal and potential gain is huge as it opens up the rich content that continues to grow within the forum for discovery via the big search engines.  This in turn will only help those within the wider community who are not aware of Solution Exchange discover the content, which may help them resolve an issue or encourage them to take part in the community platform moving forwards.

As always, leave a comment or get in touch if you have any questions.

Why I’m not a Community Manager (although sometimes I say I am)

Whilst away on holiday in Morocco in between a little food poisoning and camel riding, I managed to complete another book that has been on my ‘to read’ list for some time.

Seth Godin’s book – Tribes (http://amzn.to/cX9JpK) – is a worthwhile quick read.  Although I didn’t find the content as valuable as Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody (http://amzn.to/8ZyTXi), motivationally it was great as it really helped me verify some thoughts and ideas that have been lingering around for some time.  The premise is about how groups of people come together all the time due to a common idea and how a drop in transaction costs to form groups or stay connected i.e. through the use of Social Media has facilitated these tasks meaning that the effort of management is not really there anymore.

Instead of ‘Management’, what is needed to give a particular “tribe” direction and guidance is leadership and it is this that I prefer to refer to when I think of my role within the Solution Exchange platform (as well as Jack of all trades – master of none).  This in itself is relatively easy when the tribe is full of talented and gifted individuals and companies who innovate and lead everyday – no this is not some form of cringe worthy kissing ass.  In this case, “leadership” tasks are merely listening tasks.  This of course is a slight simplification but in the most part is true.  Listening is the consumption of audible information.  Observing the industry in which we all work is also a form of inward consumption and one where many input sources are used.  Choosing to implement ideas within the Solution Exchange or simply facilitating the more meaningful discussion for our customers (sometimes one leading to the other) is very valuable and it is this that I shall continue to try and take the lead on.

So, given all this, what am I saying? Maybe a manifesto is required? – I would like to continue and encourage discussion with those in the community, which the Solution Exchange platform is attempting to unify and connect, in order to bring light on examples of how customers are using and can better use Open Text product.  This in turn will help raise the profile of leaders within the community who are already doing great work and have done for years.  I’ve already established some great connections with some colourfully talented people in the last few months and I’d like to start putting some of these people (and companies) on a pedestal.  Lastly, and most  importantly to me, I would like to continue to lead by example and listen to the community to hear how improvements can be made and better connect the right people to take part in these discussions.  These conversations are so valuable as people inherently like to be listened to, especially when they see that someone has taken action as a result.  In my opinion, some of this is already happening and will continue to happen more and more adding value to the community initiative.

One final question; what is your part in this? Simple – contribute, discuss, and engage – please feel free to reach out to me to discuss what you think is right or wrong.

Twitter: DannyBaggs
Solution Exchange Feedback: www.solutionexchange.info/feedback

Thanks for listening!

Danny Baggs
Community Leader

First Post… ever

Ok, so here it goes.  I’m going to start blogging.  I know that I am full of opinions and more recently I have recognised the need for such opinions to be measured and validated to gain credibility.  Therefore, what better way to gain this than through and open discussion.

Having an interest in varied topics of software development and technology ranging from software development methodology, front-end HCI, progamming patterns, programming languages to proper ‘sandals and socks’ geeky Linux tools, I hope that this blog will stimulate some useful discussion or in the least provide a means for me to get some thoughts out to a wider audience.

…right, next job, let’s sort out a decent theme…