A Beginner’s Guide to Canonical Tags


Understanding canonical URLs is crucial in website positioning. 

Learn the way you should use canonical tags (and different canonicalization strategies) to affect canonical URLs. And enhance your web site’s efficiency on Google.

Let’s dive in.

What Is a Canonical URL?

A canonical URL is the URL for the “important” model of a duplicated web page, as decided by search engines like google like Google.

For instance:

  • Canonical URL: https://instance.com/weblog/
  • Alternate URL: https://instance.com/weblog/?web page=1

Observe: The canonical web page can also be known as the “principal,” “main,” or “consultant” model.

Google dislikes duplicate pages. As a result of it doesn’t need to serve repeat search outcomes. Or waste assets on pages that supply no distinctive worth.

So, when Google finds duplicate (or near-identical) pages on a web site, it selects a canonical URL to signify all of them. Then prioritizes this web page throughout indexing and rating. 

Google doesn’t at all times make the choice you need. 

Nevertheless, you possibly can affect canonicalization by utilizing canonical tags. And some other methods.

What Is a Canonical Tag?

Canonical tags, also called canonical hyperlinks or rel=“canonical”tags, mean you can affect canonicalization. 

Google considers your specified rel=“canonical” tags when selecting canonical URLs (however doesn’t depend on them utterly).

Discovered within the <head> part of a webpage’s HTML supply code, a canonical tag appears like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/" />

an image highlighting "alternate URL" and "Canonical Tag"

Sometimes, canonical tags level from an alternate web page to the popular web page.

an illustration of canonical tag pointing from an alternate page to a preferred one

However it’s additionally a good suggestion to make use of self-referencing canonicals

In different phrases, every canonical web page ought to have a canonical tag that factors to its personal URL.

Like this:

an image highlighting "self-referencing canonical"

Google’s John Mueller confirmed the significance of self-referencing canonicals.

“It’s not vital to have a self-referencing canonical tag on a web page, nevertheless it does make it simpler for us to choose precisely the URL that you simply need to have chosen as canonical,” he said in a Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout.

Canonical tags are a worthwhile deduplication software. They will resolve points with duplicate content (or near-identical pages) it’s essential to maintain.

For instance: 

  • American English and British English variations of the identical web page
  • Parameterized URLs (e.g., listings pages with filters or sorting choices utilized)

Why keep away from duplicate content material?

As a result of it will probably trigger keyword cannibalization. This happens when a number of pages on a web site compete for a similar rankings. And hurt one another’s rankings within the course of. 

By utilizing canonical tags accurately, you assist Google perceive your web site’s construction. And establish one of the best model of a duplicated web page.

This helps make sure that the model you need is the one proven in search outcomes (and the one searchers entry). This could result in greater click-through, engagement, and conversion charges.

Plus, Google consolidates the “rating energy” of alternate pages on canonical URLs.

Let’s say you’ve backlinks (hyperlinks from exterior domains) pointing to varied duplicate pages. 

If these pages canonicalize, Google will deal with all of them as hyperlinks to the canonical URL. Collectively, they’ve a constructive impression on rankings.

an illustration of backlinks, alternate URLs and canonical URLs connection

Observe: Google no longer recommends utilizing canonical tags for syndicated content. As a substitute, syndication companions are suggested to dam indexing with the right meta tags.

To implement canonical tags in your HTML, you possibly can add the rel=”canonical” tag to the <head> part of the web page. 

As a reminder, that appears one thing like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/" />

However your content material administration system (CMS) or a CMS plugin could mean you can specify canonicals with out going into the HTML. 

Hold studying for directions on Magento 1, Magento 2, WordPress, and Wix.

Or soar forward to find out about other canonicalization methods.

Magento 1

When you’re working a Magento 1 retailer, comply with these steps to specify canonical URLs for product and class pages.

Product Web page Canonicals

Log into your admin panel, then head to “System” > “Configuration.” 

Click on “Catalog” and open the “Search Engine Optimizations” part.

where to specify canonical URLs for product and category pages in Magento 1

If it isn’t already, set the “Use Canonical Hyperlink Meta Tag For Merchandise” subject to “Sure.”

set the “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products” field to “Yes”

Class Canonicals

Head again to the “Search Engine Optimizations” part on the “Catalog” web page.

Discover the “Use Canonical Hyperlink Meta Tag For Classes” choice and ensure it’s set to “No.”

set the “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories” option to "No"

Now, you possibly can manually specify the canonical URL for classes.

Head to the edit web page of any class that you simply need to canonicalize and discover the “Customized Design” tab.

Within the “Customized Structure Replace” field, add the next code. Ensuring to swap in your canonical URL.

<reference identify="head">
<motion technique="addLinkRel">

“Custom Layout Update” box in Magento 1

Magento 2

When you’re working a Magento 2 retailer, comply with these steps to specify canonical URLs throughout your web site.

Log into your admin panel, then go to “Shops” > “Settings” > “Configuration.”

Subsequent, open “Catalog” > “Catalog” and go to the “Search Engine Optimization” part.

“Search Engine Optimization” section in Magento 2
Picture Credit score: Amasty.com

Set “Use Canonical Meta Tags For Classes” to “Sure” so Magento will routinely add canonical tags to alternate class pages.

The default config path is “catalog/search engine marketing/category_canonical_tag.”

Additionally set “Use Canonical Meta Tags For Merchandise” to “Sure” so Magento will routinely add canonical tags to alternate product pages.

The default config path is “catalog/search engine marketing/product_canonical_tag.”


You may set canonical URLs in your WordPress web site by utilizing a WordPress SEO plugin

We’ll have a look at how to do that with two of the preferred plugins: Yoast website positioning and Rank Math website positioning.

Yoast website positioning Plugin

When you’re utilizing the Yoast SEO plugin, head to the Yoast website positioning choices on any web page or publish. 

Then, develop the “Superior” tab. 

You’ll discover a “Canonical URL” subject the place you possibly can specify the web page’s canonical URL.

“Advanced” tab in Yoast SEO options

Rank Math website positioning Plugin

When you’re utilizing the Rank Math SEO plugin, head to the “Rank Math website positioning” field on any web page or publish. And open the “Superior” tab.

The “Canonical URL” subject permits you to specify the canonical URL for the web page.

“Advanced” tab in “Rank Math SEO” box


By default, Wix pages use a self-referencing canonical tag.

You may change the construction of your canonical tags by going into your website positioning settings.

First, head to “Advertising and marketing & website positioning” > “website positioning” > “website positioning Settings.” After which select the kind of web page that you simply need to edit.

For this workflow, we chosen “Fundamental Pages.” 

"Edit by page type" section in Wix “SEO Settings”

After choosing the kind of web page, click on on the “Edit” button throughout the “Extra meta tags” part.

“Edit” button within the “Additional meta tags” section highlighted

Lastly, add variables to the sector below “canonical” by clicking on “+ Add Variable.” And choosing related objects from the record that seems.

adding variables section with a drop-down menu

You too can edit the canonical tags of particular person pages. Simply click on on the “Edit by Web page” tab and choose the web page with the canonical tag that you simply need to edit.

Then, click on on the “Superior” tab within the sidebar that seems. And go to “Extra tags.”

image guiding readers how to edit the canonical tags of individual pages

Lastly, edit the hyperlink that seems within the “canonical” subject.

“canonical” field highlighted

Different Methods to Specify Canonical URLs

Sometimes, you specify canonical URL preferences utilizing canonical tags. However there are different strategies you possibly can attempt:

Understanding which kind of canonicalization to make use of helps you management how your web site seems on Google. And it will probably stop points that come up on account of duplicate content material.

Let’s have a look at these deduplication strategies in additional element.

A rel=“canonical” HTTP header permits you to specify a canonical URL for non-HTML paperwork.

For instance, in case you have a .docx and .pdf model of the identical doc on-line, you should use this technique to point your most popular model.

Nevertheless, you want to have the ability to change your server’s configuration.

Within the .htaccess file, specify a canonical URL by including code that appears like this:

Hyperlink: <https://www.instance.com/downloads/filename.pdf>; rel="canonical"

Redirect Duplicate Pages to Canonical Pages

URL redirects ship Google (and customers) from one web page to a different. 

Redirecting is one of the best deduplication technique in case you don’t must maintain the alternate variations of the web page. However you don’t need to delete the URLs altogether.

For instance, when you’ve HTTP and HTTPS variations of the identical web page. Google prefers HTTPS variations. So, it’s good to your website positioning to redirect the HTTP model to the HTTPS one.

Google recommends using 3xx redirects (server-side redirects) for the quickest outcomes. 

This contains the 301 redirect, which you’ll study extra about in our 301 redirect guide.

Record Canonical URLs Solely in Your Sitemap

“All pages listed in a sitemap are urged as canonicals,” according to Google.

This implies it’s a good suggestion to submit canonical URLs (and non-duplicated pages) solely in your sitemap. And go away alternate URLs out. 

It’s not an enormous subject in case you go away duplicate pages in your sitemap. Google will determine which model is canonical. 

However it may very well be an issue in case you go away most popular URLs out. So, maintain your sitemap up to date.

When you don’t implement canonicals accurately, Google may ignore them. And that may hurt your website positioning efficiency.

Comply with these canonical tag finest practices for one of the best outcomes:

Solely Specify One Canonical URL Per Web page

Solely specify one canonical URL per web page. In any other case, you’ll confuse Google.

Watch out to keep away from unintentionally together with two canonical tags inside your web page’s HTML code. When you set the canonical tag utilizing a setting in your CMS, don’t add extra canonical tags into your HTML manually.

And in case you add rel=“canonical” to the HTML, don’t additionally add it to the HTTP header.

Specify the Right Area Protocol

In case your web site sits on the HTTPS protocol, you’ll want to reference this as your canonical URL. 

Take a look at our information to study extra about redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS.

Specify Trailing Slash or Non-Trailing Slash URLs

Take note of whether or not your pages use trailing slashes (i.e., “/” symbols on the finish of URLs). 

For instance: 

  • Trailing slash: https://instance.com/
  • Non-trailing slash: https://instance.com

If the identical URL exists with each the trailing slash and with out, Google may even see them as two separate URLs. Remember to reference your canonical URL accurately by together with the trailing slash if wanted.

And attempt to be constant throughout your web site.

Specify Non-WWW or WWW URLs

Non-WWW and WWW variations of a URL are seen as duplicate pages by search engines like google. 

For instance: 

  • Non-WWW: https://instance.com/
  • WWW: https://www.instance.com/

It’s finest to decide on one model and keep it up throughout your complete web site.

Use Absolute URLs

Canonical tags ought to be referenced utilizing absolute URLs somewhat than relative URLs.

Which means it’s best to use the complete URL, together with your area. Like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/weblog/" />

And never a relative URL. Like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="/weblog/" />

It’s simple to make errors when implementing canonical tags. 

Listed below are two of the extra widespread canonical tag errors:

Pointing Canonical Tags to Redirected Pages

Watch out to not specify a canonical URL that redirects. This may solely confuse Google.

For instance, let’s say Web page A redirects to Web page B.

You shouldn’t have any canonicals that time to Web page A. They need to level on to Web page B as a substitute.

Utilizing Canonical Tags for Non-Duplicate Content material

Solely set canonical URLs for duplicate or near-identical content material. 

Some SEOs attempt to use canonical tags to consolidate the rating energy of dissimilar pages. 

For instance, to direct authority from out-of-stock product pages to class pages.

Nevertheless, Google advises against this observe. And is very more likely to ignore these canonicals.

Discover out what Google considers to be the canonical URL for any web page in your web site with Google Search Console.

After logging in, seek for a URL on the high.

search for a URL in Google Search Console

When the “URL Inspection” report is prepared, open the “Web page indexing” part.

Scroll all the way down to see the “Google-selected canonical.”

“Page indexing” section in Google Search Console

If this isn’t your most popular URL, you might must overview the deduplication technique in your web page. 

To start out, ensure that the “Person-declared canonical” is current and proper.

“User-declared canonical” section highlighted in Google Search Console

To audit your web site’s canonical tags at scale, use Semrush’s Site Audit software.

As soon as setup is full, go to the “Points” tab.

Then search “canonical.”

search "canonical" in “Issues” tab in Site Audit

Verify for the next errors:

Site Audit results showing the list of different issues and errors

Let’s have a look at what these points are and methods to repair them.

# Pages Have Duplicate Content material Points

This error reveals what number of pages in your web site may very well be thought of duplicates. As a result of they function content material that’s no less than 85% equivalent to content material on one other web page.

Click on the hyperlink to see affected URLs.

"17,764 pages have duplicate content issues" page

You may then determine methods to resolve the problem. See our duplicate content guide for recommendation.

# Pages Have A number of Canonical URLs

This error reveals what number of pages in your web site specify multiple canonical URL.

Click on the hyperlink to view an in depth breakdown.

"3 pages have multiple canonical URLs" page

To repair this subject, it’s essential to take away the additional canonical tag(s) and go away only one in place. 

This subject reveals which pages in your web site have damaged canonical hyperlinks—i.e., specify a canonical URL that doesn’t work.

(Maybe as a result of it accommodates a typo. Or the web page has been deleted.)

Click on the hyperlink to see affected pages and the canonical URLs they level to.

"120 pages with a broken canonical link" page

Canonical tags that time to non-existent webpages complicate Google’s capacity to crawl and index your content material correctly. That would hurt your rankings.

Be sure that to replace these to the proper canonical URLs.

# AMP Pages Have No Canonical Tag

When your AMP pages don’t have canonical tags, the Web site Audit software flags it as a difficulty. It’s vital that canonicalization be in place between AMP and non-AMP variations of your web page.

You may repair this drawback by including a rel=”canonical” tag within the <head> part of every AMP web page that factors again to the non-AMP web page.

Like this:

how to fix when an AMP page doesn’t have canonical tag

Tip: You should utilize the verify packing containers and “Ship to…” button at any stage to create duties within the Semrush CRM, Trello, or Zapier. 

“Send to…” button in Site Audit with drop-down menu options: "CRM", "Trello" and "Zapier"

While you’ve mounted these points, rerun the Web site Audit utilizing the gear icon within the upper-right. 

gear icon in the upper-right highlighted

Then, verify that the canonical errors have disappeared. 

"Errors" section in Site Audit showing "0 errors"

Prepared to begin addressing canonical points? Get began with Web site Audit.

This publish was up to date in 2023. Excerpts from the unique article by James Brockbank could stay.


Source link

Related post

How to do a Quick SEO Accessibility Check

How to do a Quick SEO Accessibility Check

Among the many prime-a-million homepages, there have been a staggering 49,991,225 unique accessibility issues identified, averaging 50 points per web page.…
Google’s Tips For Moving To A New Website Without SEO Issues

Google’s Tips For Moving To A New Website Without…

[ad_1] On a latest episode of Ask Googlebot, Google Search Advocate John Mueller mentioned a priority many small enterprise house owners…
21 Search Engines Other Than Google (Best Alternatives in 2024)

21 Search Engines Other Than Google (Best Alternatives in…

[ad_1] On the lookout for the perfect search engines like google aside from Google? Maybe you’re involved about privateness, wish to…