Are you curious about canonical tags Let me first explain why canonical tags are important for your website ranking.
Google penalizes duplicate content. This has been the belief for a while. This is not true, if you didn't know.
John Muller, Google search advocate John Muller, explains:
"… it's not so bad that there's no negative score associated with them,"
Google also states on its page 'How to Avoid Duplicate Content':
"Duplicate content" generally refers to content blocks that are identical or substantially similar within or between domains.
Google makes it clear that there are occasions when website owners have legitimate reasons to have duplicate content. These include online stores and printer-only pages. These duplicate pages can confuse search engines and make it difficult for them to determine which one is the original or which page they should prioritize.
This is how you can get around it. There are two options: 301 redirects and top-level domains. However, you can also use a Canonical Tag URL.
You might be curious about canonical tags or how they can benefit you. Read on to learn more.
The Basics of Canonical Tags
A canonical tag, in its simplest form, is an HTML snippet (rel=canonical). You can use a canonical tag to tell search engines the origin page, as I mentioned in the intro. If you own an e-commerce website, or have a mobile and desktop version, you may have multiple pages.
To tell search engines to index the mobile versions of your pages, add a self-referencing Canonical tag to the mobile version. This is because the URL that's attached to the rel=canonical tag is the actual page.
This means that search engines will know which pages to show in the SERPs if you have canonical tags.
It is easy to add Canonical tags to your page by adding rel="canonical” in your header. But what does this mean for your SEO?
Canonical Tags and SEO: How do they help?
Canonical tags are essential to any SEO strategy. They allow your site rank higher. They can do this in a variety of ways:
They tell search engines which URL version they are using, so duplicate content is not ranked lower and you get the correct page indexed.
A canonical tag also aids your SEO efforts in other ways.
Syndicated Content: Canonical tags are used to manage syndicated material. It is important that search engines reference original content when you syndicate content. To indicate the page you wish to index, simply add the rel="canonical” tag to your header.
Increased rankings: When you have multiple versions or articles, adding a Canonical to the search engine indicates that you want people to visit that page. This improves the original ranking.
Tracking Canonical tags allow you to track traffic coming from different sources. If you have two URL versions with different URLs, for example, one with www and the other without, this will allow you to track traffic from both. This will help you decide which version is more popular and optimize your website accordingly.
Regular search engine spidering: Google says that it will select one URL to be the main version and crawl it. All other URLs will then be considered duplicate URLs, and crawled less frequently.
Filtering of e-commerce shops:It is not unusual for ecommerce stores to have large volumes duplicate content. It might look something like this:
img alt="Examples of duplicate content in ecommerce shops" class="wp-image-166054" height="270" loading="lazy" src="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags5.jpg" width="281"/>
A canonical tag is required to ensure that search engines index your preferred page on e-commerce.
What does a Canonical Tag do?
Canonical tags, as I have explained, allow search engines to know which version of a URL they should index. These tags are also known as "rel-canonical" or "canonical link elements". They can tell search engines which version of a URL you want them to index.
img alt="What is a Canonical Tag?" class="wp-image-166056" height="96" loading="lazy" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" src="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags4-700×96.jpg" srcset="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags4-700×96.jpg 700w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags4-350×48.jpg 350w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags4-768×105.jpg 768w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags4.jpg 1236w" width="700"/>
img alt="Examples canonical tags" class="wp-image-166055" height="320" loading="lazy" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" src="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags7.jpg" srcset="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags7.jpg 700w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags7-350×160.jpg 350w" width="700"/>
It is possible to use a canonical label to tell search engines which version you prefer. This helps maintain your site's SEO consistency and prevents duplicate content.
What are the Issues with Duplicate Content?
Let's first explain what duplicate content actually is.
Duplicate content can be defined as identical or similar content appearing in multiple pages on your website. Duplication can be caused by a variety of factors, including copying content from another website, pasting text from another page, and using multiple URLs to the same page.
Unintentional duplicate is another common cause.
This happens when pages have similar titles or metadata. It can also happen when site owners syndicate content to other sites or use software to automatically generate pages.
Intentional duplication is another reason for duplicate content. Site owners may create multiple pages in an effort to manipulate search engine rankings. To increase traffic and improve their SEO ranking, they may copy and paste content from other websites. This is known as black hat SEO.
Multiple pages on a website that contain identical or very similar content can confuse search engines. This can lead to lower ranking for those pages. It is important to add a canonical tag.
How to Check for Duplicate Content
There are several ways to spot duplicate content on your site.
It is easiest to perform a Google site search. This would look like site.yourdomain.com and you can see if there are any unexpected results. If you have an XML sitemap, you can also use Google's "site:www.yoursite.com" operator to check for duplicate pages.
You can also check for duplicate content using the following methods:
- Google Search Console allows you to check the index status of your site. The number of pages that Google has indexed and the pages that you believe should be indexed can be compared. These may be the results:
class="wp-image-166057" height="575" loading="lazy" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" srcset="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags6.jpg 700w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags6-350×288.jpg 350w.jpg 350w.jpg 350w.jpg 350w.jpg class="wp-image-166057" height="575" loading="lazy" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" src="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags6.jpg" srcset="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags6.jpg 700w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags6-350×288.jpg 350w" width="700"/>
- Use the search operator "site:example.com", to locate pages only on your website and not other sites.
- Copyscape and Siteliner can be used to detect duplicate content. These tools scan your website for duplicate content and report it.
- To crawl your site, you could also use Screaming Frog.
How to Implement Canonical Tags
You have two options to add canonical tags on your pages: manually or using a plugin. If you are adding them manually, add a link tag to the section of each page you wish to canonize (make it your main/original).
Many platforms offer a simple way for you to add canonical tags on your pages if you are using a plugin. Here are some options to add tags to different main hosting options.
Implementing Canonical Tags In WordPress
A plugin is the best way to add a Canonical Tag to WordPress. It is easy to install for WordPress users by:
- Go to the WordPress installation page and select 'Add New'.
- Search for the Yoast SEO plug-in
- Activate Yoast
- Next, go to the "after activation" option
You can also manually install canonical tag by adding PHP code to your header. This looks like this.
img alt="Implementing Canonical Tags in WordPress" class="wp-image-166058" height="291" loading="lazy" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" src="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags2.jpg" srcset="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags2.jpg 700w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags2-350×146.jpg 350w" width="700"/>
Shopify Implementing Canonical Tags
Shopify offers a guide that explains how to add a Canonical Tag URL.
You can also manually add canonical tags:
- Go to your admin panel
- Click on'sales channels' to find the option. Next, click on 'online store' to select 'themes.
- Select the theme you wish to edit, then click 'actions' and then 'edit code.
- Click Layout and select your theme.
- Insert code into closing 'head' tag
- Enter the code which looks like this.
img alt="Implementing Canonical Tags in Shopify" class="wp-image-166059" height="291" loading="lazy" sizes="(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px" src="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags1.jpg" srcset="https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags1.jpg 700w, https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Canonical_tags1-350×146.jpg 350w" width="700"/>
Squarespace – Implementing Canonical Tags
Squarespace sites make it easy to use canonical tags. All you have to do in Squarespace's editor is:
- Go to "Pages"
- Select the gears option
- Choose 'Advanced' from this menu
- Follow the instructions from there.
Best Practices for Implementing Canonical Tags
There are some best practices for canonical tags. When you have multiple pages, use a single canonical tag.
The second is to ensure that the canonical tag points at the correct page. Inadvertently pointing to the wrong page can lead to lower rankings. :
- You can use canonical tags to mark duplicate pages. This ensures that search engines only index one version.
- Use absolute URLs to allow search engines to correctly index pages.
- One rel="canonical” tag can be specified per page.
It is a good idea to audit your canonical tags in order to identify potential implementation problems and fix them. SiteChecker offers a free test of its canonical URL-checker.
Don't use too many canonical tags. This can cause your site to rank lower.
What's a Canonical Tag?
A canonical tag looks like this: example.com?dress=1234 and example.com/dresses/1234 (Source: Google).
Is a Canonical Label Required?
Some argue that canonical tag are unnecessary. However, Google states that they don't use them as ranking factors. A canonical tag is a good option if you are looking to avoid duplicate content and want to direct traffic to a particular page.
Search engines can use a canonical tag to help them understand the relationships between pages on a website. Canonical tags are useful for preventing duplicate content and enhancing your SEO efforts. They will allow your pages to be indexed by search engines.
Canonical tags can have many benefits, including improved page performance, regular crawling and easier tracking. These tags are also very beneficial to e-commerce website owners, who frequently have duplicate content on multiple pages.
There are many other ways to do it, but a canonical label is the fastest and easiest. Major platforms like Shopify and WordPress allow you to add plugins to make it easier.
Are you using canonical tags? What have you found to be most helpful?
By: Neil Patel
Title: What Are Canonical Tags?
Sourced From: neilpatel.com/blog/what-are-canonical-tags/
Published Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2022 07:00:00 +0000