Canonical Tag

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The Canonical Tag ( rel=canonical element) often called the “canonical link”. It is an HTML element that helps Search Engines prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the “canonical URL”, the “preferred” version of a web page. Actually we give Canonical tag just for search engines not for users. It also help. in Search engine Optimization of Web pages.

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How to Use the Canonical Tag?

In canonical link we give URL of preferred Web Page or Master page .This tag is present in HTML header portion where meta Title and meta Description tags are present. For Canonical Tag following Syntax is Used:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

HOW the rel=canonical tag Help in SEO?

It tells search engine/Webmasters that one URL is equivalent to another URL (preferred Page URL) where search results are related to this page.  The main use of this tag is to avoid issues related to duplicate content on your website which generally occurs due to similar URL parameters or the existence of similar content. The canonical tag was introduced to handle duplicate content for web masters who have similar or identical content within their blog.There are many legitimate reasons for duplicate content, specially system generated URLs. These include:

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  • Multiple URLs are generated in eCommerce websites where different URLs are created through different filter options for price, color, rating, etc.
  • Session ID URLs These session ID URLs are automatically generated. The same applies to Tracking URLs, breadcrumb links, printer friendly versions, and permalinks in certain CMS.
  • Case users, and most browsers are case insensitive and. It is not necessarily true for search engines, so if your website mixes up case in filenames and folder structure, you need to use the canonical tag.
  • Mobile URL Special URL (typically for the mobile version of your website then you need to use Canonical tag for master page.
  • Country URL when using multiple country specific URLs, the content largely remains the same, with only a few minor differences.
  • HTTP, HTTPS & WWW search engines see, and as distinct pages, and will crawl (and possibly index) them as separate URLS.

When To Use Canonical?

  • When search engine is confused about which URL of the page should be preferred and indexed.
  • Search engine is confused about what to do with Link Metrics (Domain Authority, Anchor text, Link juice)whether to direct to one page or to distribute in different versions.
  • Search Engine don’t know which page to rank for query result.

Canonical URL set

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A URL is chosen from a set of near-duplicate and duplicate pages and used as the canonical URL. Usually, the page that is considered most important based on the most links or visitors is chosen as the preferred URL. When all such factors are the same, any of the links can be randomly chosen as the canonical URL.

Canonical URL meaning

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A canonical URL is the source of a webpage, with the URL that search engines like Google choose as the preferred one from a set of duplicate pages. Specifying the canonical version of a webpage prevents duplicate content issues in search engine optimization. It uses the canonical tag (link rel=“canonical”) to specify that it is the preferred URL.

Canonical URL example

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When there are duplicate or near-duplicate versions of the same webpage, it becomes difficult for search engines to decide which one to show in results.

For example, these could be their URLs:

This often happens, making rel=canonical useful in such cases. Once you choose which of these two you want to make as the preferred webpage, you can add the canonical tag in the following way to make it into a canonical URL.

<link rel="canonical" href="" />

This then merges the two pages into one from a search engine’s perspective.

Non-Canonical URL

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In the example above, the link ( becomes the canonical URL, making the other link ( the non-canonical URL. There are fewer chances that the non-canonical URL appears in search engine ranking.

Google Canonical URL

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If one has the following URLs for the same webpage

Google will choose just one out of these as the canonical URL and have the (rel="canonical") tag appear with it as follows:

<link rel="canonical" href="" />

WordPress Canonical URL without plugin

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You can set your preferred webpage link as the canonical URL on WordPress using a plugin, but that can be done manually without a plugin by following these steps:

  1. Login to your WordPress account.
  2. Go to Appearance and click on Editor.
  3. Go on the Theme Header.
  4. Add the Universal PHP Code for Canonical URLS <link rel="canonical" href="<?php echo $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];?>"> in the HEAD section of the theme header file by replacing with your domain name.

Check Canonical URL

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There are numerous canonical checkers online wherein you can paste the link of your website to test it for the canonical tag. They also check for potential URL canonicalization issues on your website.

Define Canonical URL

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A canonical URL is defined as an HTML link element with the colonial tag rel="canonical” found in the element of a webpage. This informs search engines that this is the preferred URL that they should index when displaying that page’s content.

Custom Canonical URL

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A custom canonical URL is used when there are several versions of similar or duplicate content on your domain, and you want to ensure that the search engines know which of these pages to index and display in the search engine results.

About This Page

How to Use the Canonical Tag?, How the rel=canonical tag Help in SEO?, rel canonical example, When To Use Canonical?, What is canonical tag in SEO?, Is Canonical Tag important?, Should every page have a canonical tag?, URL Canonicalization, Canonical Tag Syntax.

Sachin Gupta

Author Sachin Gupta - Digital Marketing Consultant


Read More: About Sachin Gupta

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