Canonical URL: Everything you need to know.

canonical URL

Are you wondering as to what canonical URL is? Asking questions about the canonical URL is important because every webmaster should know about it. Why? It is because the canonical URL plays a critical role in ensuring that your client’s website isn’t penalized by search engines and also makes the performance of SEO strong. Now you can see that the canonical URL is also connected with Search Engine Optimization. It means understanding the concept of the canonical URL is very significant for every webmaster. If you aren’t aware of it then this article is for you.

In this guide, I will talk every possible and important thing about canonical URL. So read the article till the end to enlighten yourself.

Let’s dive and starts with basics first.  

What is a canonical URL? 

In very simple words, canonical URL is a link or canonical tag which is found in the HTML header of webpage. It basically tells search engine is there is a more important version of the page present in website. The canonical tag appears as: rel=”canonical”.

The tag rel=”canonical” is found in the <head> element of your client’s webpage. It specifies to search engines their preferred URL. That means the canonical URL informs Google and other search engines to crawl a website, and what URL to index that specific page’s content under.

Let’s now talk about the importance of canonical URLs.

Why canonical URLs are important?

Canonical URLs are very important for every website. Following are the importance of canonical URLs.

  • Canonical URLs ease your task by helping you specify which URL you want people to see in search results. They help you specify the link in a more specific way so that people find it easy to visit your site with that link.
  • The next importance of canonical URLs is that they help search engines consolidate the information they have for the individual URLs into a single and authoritative URL. They basically link signals for similar or duplicate pages and manage syndicated content. In other words, similar or duplicate content across websites won’t have to compete for traffic/ranking in search engines.
  • It is also difficult to track metrics for multiple URLs or for a single product/topic. You can’t get metric for a single piece of content while having multiple URLs to the website. Therefore, canonical URLs help keep things simple and organized, especially when it comes to reporting performances to your clients.

Move little further to know canonical URLs for SEO.

Why canonical URLs are good for SEO?

Precisely, search engines or Google detest duplicate content it is because duplicate content tends to be confusing. Whenever a search engine sees multiple pages with the same content and no clear keyword then they don’t know what to index, which page to rank, and which piece to assign credit. It basically confuses search engines as they get puzzled and don’t take any action about any page.

Here canonical URL or canonical tag plays its role. Basically, rel=canonical tag clarifies by helping the search engines understand the content, prevents them from ignoring the page, and enhances the chances for content to rank. There is also no doubt that duplicate content leads to search penalties, dropping a website’s entire ranking, and removing it from SERP’s entirely. But many SEOs believe that there is no such real penalty if your site has duplicate content. Google only filters out duplicate results just to provide a better experience to users and meet search intent.

According to experts, 29% of all content on web is duplicated which makes the user experience worst and confuses search engines as well.

Do you want to know when to use canonical URLs?

If you have reached this section then let me tell you that you will learn the best practices of SEO here. You know why? It is because when you will fully learn when you should use canonical URLs, it will not only help you identify duplicate content but also helps you learn SEO best practices. Let’s start now.

Following points will help you know when exactly you should use canonical URLs-

# While using multiple URLs variations

Every e-commerce site uses canonical URL because they set hierarchy for their products. An e-commerce site might have a category dedicated to any particular product listing. So canonical URL change the hierarchy of product to break the category into women’s and men’s. Therefore, canonical URLs help e-commerce sites to be on the top of Google’s page.

# Whenever you repost existing content

There are many people who operate multiple websites or their website might be a part of a franchise or national organization. In such a case, people share statements, blog content, press releases, on their website. This is actually a duplicate content that needs a canonical tag. Here you can use a canonical URL to direct search crawlers to the original post so that it doesn’t look like you are copying the page.

# When you A/B test different pages

A/B testing is the process that marketers use to see which elements on a page work the best. For example, testing colors of various buttons, changes in page layouts, or content. In some cases, Google gets confused and doesn’t know which page to index as the original one. Therefore, canonical URLs serve as a roadmap to the original content.

Closing thoughts

The canonical URL is as important as SEO for any website. Like SEO helps web masters to rank their site on Google’s first SERP, canonical URL also helps better inform search engines which URL has identical or highly similar content. I have mentioned in this article the importance of canonical URLs and when you should use them. I hope now you fully understood the entire concept of canonical URLs.

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