What is a Canonical URL?
On your Shift4Shop store, the paths to your product and general site content pages are usually constructed in the following fashion:
However, sometimes there may be alternate versions of your page URLs that can be listed on search engines - even though they ultimately go to the same page.
Situations such as affiliate, session or conversion tracking script paramters as well as an alternate domain presence may change your URL slightly. For example:
In the above two examples, both URLs essentially go to the same page. However search engine spiders may not realize this. Therefore, you may not always have control as to which URL is represented on your search engine results. Furthermore, some search engines - most notably Google - may flag situations like the above as possible "duplicate content" which may indirectly hurt your rankings.
By using Shift4Shop's Canonical URL feature, you can effectively add the absolute URL that will always be used on your pages when they are listed on search engines.
How do I Specify the Canonical URL?
To do this, first log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manage and, using the left hand navigation menu:
What Does this Do?
Basically, this feature will take whatever you have specified in your Store URL (in the General >Settings >Store Settings page) and will add it automatically to all of your site pages via the frame.html template:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.store_url.com/[page_name]">
This way, when a search engine spiders your site via any of the possible alternative domains, the relative link it scans and records will reflect your desired URL.