What to do if neither canonical URL nor 301 redirects from HTTP homepage

A 301 redirect or canonical URL ( rel=”canonical”) is used to tell search engines which version of a web page should be indexed and displayed in search results. In comparison to canonical URLs, 301 redirects accomplish a little bit more since they also send visitors to the updated version of the page. 

URL canonicalization is a newer technique than 301 redirects, and webmasters disagree about whether canonical URLs have the same impact and outcomes as 301 redirects. However, all webmasters agree that you have a problem to fix if neither the canonical URL nor the 301 redirect actually redirects from the HTTP homepage. Luckily, this quick guide will help you solve the problem.

Is a canonical link necessary? 

The canonical URL element conveys information to Google and other search engines regarding how to crawl a website and what URL to index the content of a particular page under. This is important since URLs might differ depending on various conditions but still deliver the same or very similar content.

So, while canonical links aren’t absolutely necessary, they are smart to use if you’re trying to optimize your SEO. 

Common HTTPS errors that can cause accessibility issues

HTTPS is more secure than HTTP, but it can create some issues. HTTPS errors that affect web page accessibility aren’t uncommon. Some of the most typical HTTPS errors that could appear in an SEO audit of your website include:

  • Homepage does not use HTTPS encryption
  • Non-secure pages
  • No redirect or canonical to HTTPS homepage
  • HTTP URLs, insight map
  • Problems with mixed content
  • Links on HTTPS pages that can lead to HTTP pages

Making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS requires that certain steps be taken to avoid errors. You’ll need to make sure: 

  • All of your HTTP links point to the correct places.
  • Redirects are set up from old pages to new destinations to prevent 404 errors.
  • A canonical tag is used to force all URLs to redirect to the website’s homepage once you’ve enabled SSL encryption.

If your SEO audit reveals issues with any of these, we advise you to address those problems first. 

What to do when neither the canonical URL nor 301 redirects from the HTTP homepage version

You can either add a canonical tag to the HTTP site that points to the HTTPS version of the homepage or use 301 redirects to move users from the incorrect version to the proper one. If neither of these things happen, users won’t be redirected to the HTTPS version of the homepage. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is a manual check for canonical URLs. To do this:  

  • Right-click anywhere on the page. 
  • Select “View page source” from the popup box. 
  • Look for a link tag that includes the rel=canonical property, such as link rel=”canonical” href=”https://site.com“>  to see whether any protocols are mentioned. 

If a canonical URL is present that means the canonical URL element is instructing search engines like Google on how to crawl a website and under which URL to index a specific page’s content. Check the URL information to make sure it’s correct. Often a simple typo is the reason a canonical URL fails to redirect from the HTTP homepage.

If there’s no canonical URL and no 301 redirects, then you’ve found the problem. Follow the steps below to correct the issue based on the redirection method you prefer:

  • Make use of 301 redirects to eliminate URL duplication. This will help Google determine which page is the most popular.
  • Include a rel=canonical tag on all of your pages. 
  • If you can edit the server’s configuration, add the rel=”canonical” HTTP header.

The majority of the time taking those three steps will resolve the problem and the HTTP homepage should redirect to the HTTPS version. If you are still running into the issue you may need to double check all of the URLs and redirect information to ensure it’s accurate.

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