What are Canonical Tags and Why it is Important for SEO?

Are you looking to learn what is canonical tags and Urls, How to implement and why canonical tag are important for SEO?

In this article you will get What is canonical URLs, when to use them and how to prevent or fix a few common mistakes!

What is Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag (rel=”canonical”) is a html snippet that helps search engines to identify main version of your web pages and indexed them. It helps you to solve duplicate content issue quickly.

What is Canonical Url?

“Canonical Url is the page URL that Google thinks is most representative from a set of duplicate pages on your site” – From Google Search Console help

History of rel=canonical

The rel=canonical link element introduced by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo in 2009 to provide website owners with a way to solve duplicate content issue quickly.

Matt Cutts post gives you some background about the canonical link element.

Why Canonical Tags are Important for SEO?

1. It helps search engines (Google) to identify which version of a page to index.

2. After putting queries in the search bar of any search engines, it helps to tell search engines which version of a page to rank.

Rules: Canonical Tag Implementation

Always use absolute Urls in canonical tag

For example:

Always use – <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/sample-post”/>

Don’t use: <link rel=”canonical” href=”/sample-post”/>

Always use the correct version of your domain i.e https or http

If you already moved your domain to https then don’t use http in the canonical tag.

Always use lowercase and one canonical tag per page

Google will ignore all the canonical tags if you will use multiple tags in a single web page.

When to Use Canonical Url?

Let’s assume if you have 2 pages with the same content and both the pages are linked with other high authority domain and we all know that Google penalizes the duplicate content. So, we need to tell Google which page need to index and show in SERPs.

How to set Canonical Tag?

The most common way to specify your canonical Url using rel=”canonical” html code that are placed in between <head></head> sections of a web page.

You can write it like:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.bloggersideas.org/free-seo-tools”/>

Setting a Canonical Url on Magento

If you are running your Ecommerce store developed on Magento, follow the below steps to implement the canonical Urls for products and category pages.

  1. Logged into the Magento store admin panel, Go to System>Configuration and choose the Catalog tab and open the Search Engine Optimizations section:

Then choose ‘Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products’ and set to yes

If you are finding that this is already set to yes then you don’t need to do any changes.

Setting a Canonical Url on WordPress

How to implement canonical Urls on WordPress is depends on which WordPress SEO plugins you are using.

Here you will learn how to do this with the most popular SEO plugins i.e Yoast and RankMath

Canonical Tags with Yoast

If you are using Yoast, go to the Yoast SEO options on any page or post and expand the ‘advanced’ tab and you can specify the canonical URL. 

See the below image for help

Canonical Tags with RankMath

If you are using RankMath, similarly go to advanced tab on any page or post and you will see an option to specify a canonical URL for the page.

Common Canonicalization Mistakes to avoid

1. Avoid blocking your canonical url via Robots.txt

2. Avoid using noindex tag along with canonical tag in your web pages

3. Avoid adding canonical tag in 404 pages

4. Avoid using canonical tags in paginated urls

Can I Use 301 Redirect to Remove the Canonicalization?

Yes, but 301 redirects should only use if you are moving your page/domain to new destination.

You can find all the 404 pages from Google search console and redirect 301 to the same/better content. This will signal search engines to show the relevant pages to your users and helps to improve the bounce rate.

How to Audit Canonical Tags on your Website?

You can find the canonicalization with the SEMrush Site Audit tool. When you run the site audit report for your website, you will find a number of checks that are related to canonical tags.

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