Canonicalization is an important method to fix content duplicate issues. Today in this topic we are going to learn about Canonical URL and “Rel=Canonical” tags which can help you in achieving better SEO results. But before getting into all techniques, methods and tricks, let’s understand what is Canonical URL and how it can help you in search engine optimization?
Canonical URLs on website:
A canonical URL is nothing but a page which is more representative for search engines and they (Search Engines) believe that webmasters are serving original content under that page instead of similar page which might have duplicate content.
Do you know why search engines such as Google think that web masters are serving duplicate content?
There is no website owner in this world who serves duplicate content under different pages. They serve content under one page only page but sometimes it creates confusion between search engines.
Let’s understand Canonical URL by an Example:
In Above image, you can see one post of my facebook page TheSEOGuy. I have opened this post on desktop device. Hence, the URL is pretty much simple and clean. You can see the page name and post ID.
But if I will open the same post using a mobile browser, then content would remain same but the URL will be changed. For example:
As you can see above, this is the similar post I have opened but this time I have used mobile device and mobile browsers are adding an extra parameter in URL which is M. For example, this post is appearing as m.facebook.com/theseoguyindia/posts/3532575966807757 However, when I opened this post on desktop device it was appearing as www.facebook.com/theseoguyindia/posts/3532575966807757.
According to facebook, both are similar post but search engine bots are not able to understand this because they are not humans, they are robots who simply can’t see the difference.
In order to make the search engines understand, facebook added canonical tag on mobile browser page. If you open the source of mobile browser page, you can simply see the canonical tag.
Just like the above example, you can place the canonical tag on original post page and let search engines consider that page as original content page. For that you can simply add the following Code in your page header:
<link rel="canonical" href="yourdomain.com/page/post"/>
Remove yourdomain and put your website’s page address and save it.
This is one of the example, there could be many other reasons that search engines are counting your URL’s are duplicate. Given below are some major reasons.
When we enable pagination on product listing page or blog pages, sometimes it generates Click URL parameters but serves the same content. It will look like this https://www.example.com/category/page?gclid=xyz. Just like given below example.
Pagination could be a major reason of where you need to implement canonical tag to fix content duplicate issue.
Site search box could be another big reason for creating confusion between search engines to identify the original content URL. For example, if you using search box to find out content on website, it generates another URL parameter and sometimes it is similar to the content page URL. To make it easy to understand I have captured an event search. Let’s have a look at given below example.
As you can see, the page URL similar to this current post URL. In the screenshot, it says
https://theseoguy.in/?s=canonical+url (Page URL)
https://theseoguy.in/canonical-url (Post URL)
both the URLs are identical and hard for search engines bots to understand. If I will ever get a content duplicate issue by this event search, I know what to do.
Canonical URL – FAQs
What is the use of a canonical URL in SEO?A canonical URL could help you to fix content duplicate issues. You may use this method to tell search engines about your origianl content page so that they could consider it as origin page and treat similar pages as secondary pages.
What is a canonical URL and how do I create one?There are several methods to create canonical tag. The simplest method is to put rel=canonical tag in page header of your original page and put the page URL.
Is there any SEO benefit of using Canonical URLs?Yes, using canonical URLs could leave a positive impact on your SEO performance. It would search engines to understand your content easily and avoid putting unneccessary content duplicate errors on your web.
What is Cross Domain Canonical tag?If you are the owner of multiple domains and have posted similar content, you can pick any one as original post and put the cross domain canonical tag.You can cross-post content across several domains that you own, you can benefit from others republishing your own content, rent or purchase content on other sites, and safely use third-party distribution networks like Medium to spread the word.
Where can I find Canonical errors for my website?Whenever google finds and error on your website, you can easily locate it in Google Search Console. For canonical issues, you can follow given below steps to locate all errors.
- Go to search console home
- Login with your webmaster ID and Password
- Go to index coverage issue
- Locate “alternate page with proper canonical tag” errors You can get the list of all pages.
What is the difference between 301 redirection and using canonical tag?Canonical tag is a method of telling search engines about the page location and original content placement. In this method you could tell search engines that your which content page URL is original and is representing your website content.
However, 301 redirection is completely different. Adding 301 redirection means you are telling search engines that you have moved the destination of page from one place to another. Most commonly moving page destination causes 404s on your website however, Duplicate content on page doesn’t create 404 but it compile the list of all URLs which looks similar and serve similar content.
Hope these pointers would help you to understand What is Canonical URL and why it is important to use Canonical Tag on website. If you have additional information on canonical URL, do comment below.