IP canonicalization is the process of redirecting the IP address to the main domain name hosted with it. This is the same as URL canonicalization or the WWW Resolve, and it prevents your website from being marked as duplicate. Such would be the content that is copied from another website or page and posted on yours.
And the reason for canonicalizations is that duplicated content could cause a lot of problems for the search engine crawlers and for your indexing.
What does IP canonicalization do for your website?
Basically, when you or the search engine bots wish to check a website, there are two ways to do that. One of them is to use the IP address (for example 157.19.01), and the second one is to use the domain name (or https://example.com).
IP canonicalization ensures that both your domain name and IP address resolve to the same URL and show the same page and content. In other words, whether you or the bots access the IP instead of the domain, the end result is landing on https://example.com every single time.
In case this doesn’t happen there is a problem because search engine bots may “see” your IP address and domain name as directing to two completely different pages, with the exact same content. Thus, the bots perceive these two versions of your website as different platforms, where one – randomly selected – is the original and the other is a copy.
Simply put, search engine bots will mark the content of the first page as the original and the latest as a “copy” or duplicated content. Naturally, this may affect your ranking as it could indicate the intention of trying to “trick” the system and “stealing” content for quick points. Therefore you need to make sure that your IP address and domain name point to the same URL. Ergo, implementing the IP canonicalization will redirect users and crawlers to one site, the one you want to rank for.
Is IP canonicalization important for SEO?
IP canonicalization can benefit your indexing, and implicitly your rank in two main ways. The first one is helping your unique content get ranked properly. Sometimes search engine bots may have trouble displaying new content in search results simply because the crawling process is not a time precise process. In other words, which of the two versions – the IP or the domain version of your site – the crawlers find first is more or less random.
Aside from that, the indexing process is influenced by internal and external links. This means that crawlers can index half of your pages on one version of the site and jump to the other version and continue indexing simply because you had a link within your content that sent the bots from one version to the other.
In their view, that is an external link from your IP address to your domain, or from one site to another. So, as expected, this might bring negative effects to the unique content that you worked so hard on.
This leads us to our second reason for using IP canonicalization. By ensuring that the bots find only the canonical URLs or the ones you want to be indexed, all of your pages get indexed and therefore you get extra ranking points for a job well done.
What are the requirements to set up IP canonicalization?
If you don’t know if such redirect already exists, just try to use the IP canonicalization test from any online tool, including the Wiredelta Web Analysis tool. This will show whether your IP redirects to the domain name you entered. If the test tells you you are missing this, then you or your development team have to set it up as it follows:
- Require a dedicated IP address
- Add a rewrite rule in the .htaccess file.
- Exchange xxx\.xxx\.xxx\.xxx with your IP address and replace example.com with your actual domain name.
Important notes for setting the IP Canonicalization
- Remember to avoid using canonicalization for paginated archives because they split the page into many subpages and have different URL’s.
- Don’t use URL removal tools in canonicalization because it will remove all versions of a URL from a search.
- Use HTTPS over HTTP when setting canonicalization.
- Make sure you use consistent linking conventions.