Canonical Tags | A Beginners Guide - Archenhaud

In the year 2009, Canonical Tags was together launched by Google, Yahoo & Microsoft to solve a common problem faced by Search Engines. But it gradually created a new problem for SEO people. Let’s try to understand what Canonical Tags are, what is the Purpose of these tags, and how to set up them.

Initially, Canonicals were expected to be related to duplicates. But in reality, Canonicals never mean duplicate. In simple words, it means “preferred or favorite among similar things”.

Why do you have similar pages on your websites?

There can be 2 reasons for that, the First is technical, and the Second is Content.

1) Technical

A single page can be opened by multiple URLs.

eg: if the page is example.com/page, then it can be opened by all the below shared URLs

  • https://example.com/page
  • http://example.com/page
  • https://www.example.com/page
  • http://www.example.com/page
  • http://www.example.com/page/
  • https://www.example.com/page/

Thus there are multiple ways of reaching out to a single page. All these URLs might seem the same to many of us but for search engines, all these are individual URLs. All these URLs compete with each other for their space in Search Engine Results and then divide your page rank. So, even though to your Knowledge you have created a single page with unique content in it, for the Search Engine, each URL acts as a separate page. Thus it is better to let Crawler know in advance your preferred URL.

2) Content

If almost similar or exact content is replicated on multiple pages, the best practice is to keep the crawler updated in advance about the original or the preferred URL.

What is the purpose of using Canonical Tags / URLs?

When you attach canonical tags on different pages and refer to a single preferred page, you are actually letting the crawler know to combine the rank signals of all these multiple pages and pass that to the single preferred / favorite/ main page. Canonical Tags combines the link equity or link signal or link juice of the URLs.

How to use Canonical Tags / URLs?

Canonical Tags can be easily implemented easily in the site.

Platforms like WordPress and others offer various plugins to add canonical tags. For each piece of content, you can specify a different canonical URL in a separate field in the Advanced section. To make the modifications, follow the below steps:

Add Canonical URLs to WordPress Site:

  • Log in to your WordPress website
 WordPress website dashboard Archenhaud
  • Visit the post whose canonical URL you want to modify.
  • Once you are on the editing page, in the Yoast SEO sidebar select the “Advanced” area.
‘Canonical URL’ field- Archenhaud
  • In the “Canonical URL” field, enter the complete canonical URL, including http/s and www or non-www.
  • Either save the draft or publish the post to update the changes.

Add Canonical URLs to Blogger:

Blogger by default, offer this field in the header section. Thus, there is no need to add a separate plugin there.

Follow these instructions to add the canonical tag to your Blogger blog.

  • Select the blog by logging onto your Blogger account. From the menu on the left, select Theme.
  • Click on the vertical three dots.
  • Select Edit HTML.
  • Look for the following line in your Blogger template file (or in Dashboard Design HTML). If it’s discovered, your template already supports canonical.

<b: include data=’blog’ name=’all-head-content’/>

  • You must manually add the link tag, if the line cannot be detected

<b: include data=’blog’ name=’all-head-content’/>

  • Add this line if you discover the code in the header: <link rel=’canonical’ expr:href=’data:blog.url’/> beneath it.

Add Canonical URLs to HTML or Custom Coded Sites:

  • Choose one among the multiple pages to serve as the canonical one.
  • Include a rel=canonical link in the page’s <head> section that points from the non-canonical page to the canonical one, as:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”Post URL” />

Important Facts about the Canonical Tags:

  1. Canonical Tags are not instructions but only mere hints to the crawler. It might be possible that Google might pick any URL, other than the URL selected by us, as the Canonical. So it’s not necessary that there is a fault in your way of doing it, it’s just Google’s way of doing it.
  2. Canonical Tags are different from 301 Redirect. There is no similarity between the two. 301 is the HTTP response code from the server to a browser. It informs the browser that the previously uploaded content or asset is now permanently relocated to the redirected page. However, in the case of canonical, all pages are alive and not removed from anywhere.
  3. Canonical Tags can be used for Cross-Domain as they will combine the ranking signals from both domains.
  4. You should use Self-referencing canonical.

In the End

Technical SEO requires the use of canonical URLs. Wondering how technically sound your site’s SEO is overall? You can determine what you need to work on with the help of our technical SEO blogs. Stay Tuned!!!

This May Also Interest You:

Why does Google Choose a different Canonical URL?

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