Getting multiple homepage versions is a problem almost as old as Google itself. Well, maybe not that old, but this is one of the most generic problems in any basic SEO project. So what exactly are multiple versions of a homepage and why can it be a problem? Well, several types of sites can generate slightly different home page urls without you knowing it. For example, you might find that you both have mywebsite.com, www.mywebsitename.com, and www.mywebsitename.com/default.aspx (which is a very common problem that occurs when you have a .NET website).
So what’s the problem? Google and other search engines will have to choose which of your urls is the canonical one. This might also split your traffic data and screw up with your analytics. So all in all, it is a bad thing. Of course nowadays, search engines are smart enough to figure out this error. However it is still the best practice to spot this and fix it yourself. Even if you don’t have a .NET site, you can check out www.yourwebsitename.com/default.aspx because this kind of duplication happens a lot more often that you would expect.
The Easy Solutions:
Step 1: Find the Duplicates
This can be a bit confusing. But instead of guessing all the possible urls, you can simply have your site crawled and have the crawled pages on CSV excel which you can then easily sort out by using a filter. Just find the duplicates for the home page name and viola.
Step 2: Fix It
One simple solution as any veteran SEO would know is to add the “rel=canonical” tag which will show search engines your preferred home page. But probably one of the other best solutions is to add a 301 redirect. This basically redirects those who go to the duplicate page into the page you want as canon. This is less confusing and will give our one home page all the funneled traffic.
If you want a different approach, there exists crawl tools that automatically help you get internal links lists which will already do the work of showing you the duplicate pages for your home page or any other important landing pages you care about. You can use these tools to go edit directly pointing to the right URL instead of using the 301 solution. This method can be more effective but will of course cost you more depending on the cost of the tool you want to use for the job (these are not all free).
There you have it, two simple and easy steps to fix that troubling multiple versions or duplicate home page problems. These problems are basic and we don’t see them vanishing anytime soon despite the advancements of crawlers. Remember also that sometimes the best fixes are the most obvious ones so going in at this problem using more complicated methods are not always for the best. Give us some feedback if you have other thoughts regarding the matter; we would love to hear from you.