[theme-reviewers] Proposal for new guideline

Emil Uzelac emil at themeid.com
Tue Mar 6 22:14:33 UTC 2012

If they do not use your plugin would this hurt the SEO?
On Mar 6, 2012 3:47 PM, "Joost de Valk" <joost at yoast.com> wrote:

>  Hi all,
> tldr version: I would like a guideline that tells theme developers to *not
> * include a rel=canonical link in their theme as it hurts people more
> than it helps in a lot of cases.
> long version:
> As some of you probably know, I do a lot of SEO consultancy. Some of it is
> related to people who have suddenly lost all their rankings and want me to
> help fix it for them. Today I helped out a blogger, unpaid because I just
> liked his blog as it was about children with Down Syndrome.
> He had recently switched themes *and *started using my WordPress SEO
> plugin, and of course he was blaming my plugin for his sudden loss of
> rankings. What I found out though, was that the theme had the following
> rel=canonical link in the header.php:
> <link rel="canonical" href="<?php echo home_url(); ?>" />
> above the call to wp_head. This was causing each individual post to have a
> canonical point back to the homepage. Now you should know that Google
> especially sees a canonical as somewhat of a "soft 301 redirect". It
> basically takes a page that has a canonical pointing elsewhere out of the
> rankings. The effect is quite dramatic.
> This was a premium theme, whose authors I have since emailed. It got me
> thinking though: is this in the WP.org guidelines? Apparently, it's not.
> WordPress itself adds a rel="canonical" through wp_head on single pages,
> and there's a patch in Trac to add it on more pages. There are several
> themes in the repository though that have absolutely 100% wrong canonical
> links in their header.
> This one: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/digu is an example. It's not
> popular and hasn't been updated in ages so I wouldn't normally care too
> much, but I wanted to use it as an example. It has the following code:
> <?php if(is_single()){ ?><link rel="canonical" href="<?php echo
> get_permalink($post->ID),"\n";?>" /><?php }?>
> <?php if(is_home() || is_tag() || is_category() || is_month() ||
> is_year()){ ?>
> <link rel="canonical" href="<?php bloginfo('url');?>" /><?php echo "\n";
> }?>
> …. snip ….
> <?php } ?>
> Using that theme on a live site could kill your rankings instantly, as it
> would make all category listings etc have canonicals linking back to the
> homepage. In most cases this would prevent Google from spidering the links
> to the posts on those pages.
> Now some themes, like Thematic and Hybrid, have somewhat more sensible
> canonical functions, which makes this a hard discussion. I would vote to
> call it plugin territory though and keep it out of themes completely. Would
> love to hear your opinions.
> Best
> Joost
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