Second Site News #080

12 March 2018

In this issue:

Second Site Version 6.05 Released

This is a maintenance release with a couple new features, including the Canonical Base URL property. All Second Site users should update to this release. This version also uses a new installer which will simplify the installation process.

The article below describes why the new Canonical Base URL property is important.

See the Change Log for more details.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of tuning web site content and other characteristics of a site to maximize search engine results. The most important factor is your content, but where your pages appear in search results—if they appear at all—is also affected by several technical factors. Second Site handles a couple important factors for you, such as making sure that when a search engine crawls your site, every page on the site can be reached by following a trail of links that begins on the main page. There are several other factors, some of which are subtle.

The addition of the Canonical Base URL in version 6.05 addresses one of the subtle factors, one that needs your input for Second Site to implement. The Canonical Base URL will not directly affect the operation of the site, but will affect how some search engines, notably Google and Bing, index the pages of the site.

The primary reason to specify a canonical URL is to instruct search engines which version of a URL is the preferred version when a single page is accessible via two (or more) URLs.

Second Site appends the filename of each page to the Canonical Base URL to form the preferred URL for the page, and inserts the preferred URL into the HTML for the page as a "canonical" URL. That URL is not visible on the page, but search engines retrieve the canonical URL when they add the page to their indexes. When the page appears in search results, Google and Bing and other search engines will use the canonical URL.

(See: Google's explanation of canonical URLs.)

There are several reasons why a single page might be available via multiple URLs. For Second Site users, these two reasons are the most common:

  1. The main page of your site is often available via multiple URLs. For example,,,, and Unless your index.htm page specifies a canonical URL, references to those URLs will be tracked separately by the search engines, and that lowers the page rank by distributing usage across multiple search index entries.
  2. The web is moving from mostly-HTTP to mostly-HTTPS. Much, if not all, of the existing usage of your site is tied to the HTTP version of the URL. According to Google, that usage is not automatically associated with the HTTPS version of the URL. Meanwhile, Google boosts the ranking of HTTPS URLs over HTTP URLs. Having an HTTPS version of your site is critical, but without using a canonical URL, introducing an HTTPS URL will negatively influence page ranks.

So, it's important to gather all the usage for a single page under a single URL, and the mechanism to do that is to add a canonical URL to the HTML. Second Site will now do that for you, as long as you specify the starting point:

  • If your site is published to, set the Canonical Base URL to "".
  • If your site is published to, set the Canonical Base URL to "".

If your site is NOT available via HTTPS, use "http://" rather than the "https://" shown in the examples above.

Resubscribe to Second Site News

As of February 19, 2018, the Second Site News mailing list is now managed by Google Groups. Subscriptions to the old list were not moved to the new list.

If you have not joined the new list yet, you can join the list by sending an email message to the list address:

If you have difficulty joining the group, please contact me.

New home:

As of February, 2018, Second Site has a new home, If you visit the old site, you will be redirected to the new site. If you have bookmarks to the old site, take a moment and update them.


My software products, including Second Site and GedSite, are sold through the FHH Software Sales site. Customer profiles were not transferred from the prior store to the current store, so if you have not purchased Second Site 6 yet and you want to do so now, don't be surprised if your email address is not associated with an existing customer profile on that site. That's normal.


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