SONY Hong Kong Canonicalization Issue

One commonly overlooked area in a website building exercise is its canonicalization structure. According to Matt Cutts of Google, canonicalization is the process of picking the best url when there are several choices, and it usually refers to home pages. Examples of which can be in the following format:

www.website.net
website.net
website.net/index.html

Typically these URLs will display the same page. But technically, they are different URLs that search engines look at them. And since search engines look at them differently, they appear to compete against each other and a possibility that various websites link to each of them. Worse, when someone types in a certain URL format, the page requested isn’t displayed, as in the classic example for Sony Hong Kong website. It displays the homepage only when you type www.sony.com.hk but not with sony.com.hk.

If someone accidentally or deliberately skipped the www. part, they won’t see the Sony Hong Kong homepage unless they retry with the triple “w” on. Also, for those who follow links that point to the non-www site, they will experience the same thing. Just imagine how many opportunities Sony would squander just because of this overlooked area.

To fix the problem, all Sony needs to do is to apply redirects so that if it prefers to use www.sony.com.hk instead of the shorter sony.com.hk, just apply proper redirects:

Apply the following lines in .htaccess for websites running under Apache servers:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^website.net$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.website.net/$1 [R=301,L]

For Windows server using ASP, the following code needs to be placed in a global file or a filename accessed just before the page loads.

<%
If InStr(Request.ServerVariables(“SERVER_NAME”),”www”) = 0 Then
Response.Status=”301 Moved Permanently”
Response.AddHeader “Location”,”http://www.”
& Request.ServerVariables(“HTTP_HOST”)
& Request.ServerVariables(“REQUEST_URI”)
Response.End
End if
%>

If Sony is confident enough that it will rank on certain phrases it recommends to its visitors to access certain pages, addressing the canonicalization issues should boost this website’s confidence to receive more visitor traffic.