Although they are not the most exciting aspect of technical SEO, canonical tags are an essential component. However, if you know how to use canonical tags correctly, you can improve your SERP performance and avoid major ranking issues.
What exactly are canonical tags?
An HTML tag known as a canonical tag informs search engines of the page’s original version. This forestalls copy content issues by obviously demonstrating which page is the “liked” variant when different pages contain a similar substance.
Without the accepted tag, web search tools like Google pick which rendition of the page they like. This typically occurs when multiple pages contain the same or nearly identical content. Google may select the incorrect version as a result, or it may cause multiple pages on the same website to compete for the same keyword.
Canonical tags allow you to specify the version you want to be displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Why use them?
A successful SEO strategy includes canonical tags as an essential component. This will give credit to the first page and assist with keeping away from copy content punishments from Google.
Duplicate content is not welcome by search engines. Only a one-page version should be indexed. By telling search engines which URL you want to rank for in search results, canonical tags assist in resolving this issue.
What is the importance of canonical tags for SEO?
Your website’s ability to rank can be hindered by duplicate or low-quality content, particularly if most of your website’s content is duplicate. The crawl budget is squandered, Google expends resources to crawl low-quality pages, and the index may rise as a result.
By clearly indicating preferred versions of pages, canonical tags prevent this effort from being wasted and allow resources to concentrate on the most important pages. Your rankings will rise as a result, and your pages will be indexed more quickly as a result.
Preventing content theft is yet another important reason to use canonical tags. Scraping sites are still present, despite their declining prevalence. Google may consider the original page (page) to be a duplicate if these websites immediately copy the site’s content and attempt to index it first.
While employing the appropriate normalization strategy can lessen the issues that automatic scraping can bring about, you may need to employ additional strategies to avoid this.
How do you put canonical tags into my code?
Implementing canonical tags can be done in a variety of ways:
- (rel=canonical) HTML tag:
This is the simplest approach. Simply add the following code to your duplicate page’s “head>” section: Link rel=” canonical” and href=”https://example.com/canonical-page/”.
- Headers for HTTP:
Canonical tags cannot be included in the head of PDF documents because there is no “head>” section for pages. Instead, set canonicals with HTTP headers.
- Redirects to 301:
When you want to move traffic from a duplicate URL to the canonical one, you can use 301 redirects. Choose one URL to serve as the canonical version and reroute all other URLs to it if the page can be accessed at multiple URLs. Do likewise for the HTTPS/HTTP and www/non-www renditions of the site.
When should canonical tags be used for SEO?
The canonical tag can be used on any page on your website and point to any page. In general, using canonical tags on all pages that search engines can access is a good idea. A canonical tag should be added to all pages that point to a particularly preferred version if multiple pages contain the same content.
Add a canonical tag that points to the page itself, also known as a self-referencing canonical tag, if the page is unique.
Although it is merely an HTML tag, the canonical tag reveals a great deal. Although it would be impossible to cover everything in a single blog post, the following best practices for canonical tagging will help you gain a deeper comprehension of how canonical tags function.
In canonical tags, use complete and correct URLs:
In canonical tags, always use the full URL and always verify that the URL is the correct version. The canonical tag will link to exactly this page if the page is https://mysite.co.uk/page1. No need to use http://www.mysite.co or http://mysite.co.
For each page, use one canonical tag:
Even though this seems like common sense (not that a website can have multiple original versions of the same page), multiple canonical tags are more common than you might think. Search engines can be muddled by additional plugins or new developers accidentally adding additional canonical tags, which can affect rankings.
For existing pages, always use the canonical tag:
You should still add a self-referencing canonical tag to the page to indicate that it is original, even if the page is unique and has not been duplicated.
URLs that ought to be 301-redirected should not be normalized:
Instead of using the canonical tag, it is frequently preferable to 301 redirect the page to the preferred version if the page does not provide any additional value. If you must choose just one, you should save that discussion for another blog post.
However, 301 consolidates ranking signals, eliminates duplicate content, reroutes users and search engines to the preferred version, and removes duplicate content.
Canonical tags, on the other hand, inform search engines that one page is a duplicate of another, even though users can still access the page.
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