You can use the Canonical Tag on your website’s home page to ensure that search engines do not index the wrong URL and therefore show the correct web page version. It is also known as a canonical link or “rel canonical.
What is a Canonical Tag?
Our websites sometimes have identical or similar pages; using a canonical tag or a small code placed in the HTML can help search engines understand the page’s main version compared to the rest of the pages.
We include canonical tags in our SEO, allowing Google to know which version among the various pages to select and display in the search results. It helps to segregate the original version from the duplicate pages. Canonical tags also help in improving the crawling and indexing of websites. You will get a clear understanding of how this works with the help of an SEO Agency.
Example of Canonical Tag
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/examplepage.htm”> />
Importance of Canonical Tags
Few websites have duplicate pages displaying the same content with different URLs. The main purpose of using a canonical tag is to help search engines understand which are main pages and which duplicate pages look alike.
In cases where duplicate pages exist, Google needs to decide what pages to index and rank in the search results. It cannot display all the web pages that have the same information.
Example of Canonical tag
Here in the above-given example, the product page is displayed as a main category /clothes/, but it also displays color and size parameters as filters. It shows search results with 3 different URLs. In such situations, we use canonical tags where they will inform Google that they need to index the main URL category/clothes/and leave the rest of the URLs.
Canonical Tags also comes up with some important benefits
Canonical tags integrate or combine all duplicate pages as one main canonical page to increase the page rank. Some same pages can have backlinks from different external sources from random websites, social media, etc.
Due to the presence of duplicate pages, they tend to take link equity from the main version of the page that you want to rank as a search result. To avoid such a thing, we use canonical tags on the duplicate pages so that the PageRank will be transferred into a single URL, thus improving the overall ranking in search results.
Manage syndicated content
Canonical tags are very important as they can inform the search engines which websites have original content and syndicated ones. Many website owners tend to publish their content on other websites mostly for promotional purposes, which often confuses the Google search engine on what content to display in the search results.
It all depends on Google to decide which website contains the original content and which websites are used to promote their content. Placing canonical tags on such external websites solves the problem of promoting the wrong version of the page in Google search.
Apart from solving the problem of displaying the main page content, it also helps search engines such as Google to crawl pages smoothly and index them, leaving the duplicate ones not to be crawled. It will waste much of Google’s time due to duplicate pages that are not important to be crawled or indexed.
Using canonical tags in pages, Google tends to focus on important pages that should be crawled, saving the crawl budget.
How can you add Canonical Tags?
It would be best to implement Canonical tags on a page-by-page basis; this might take more time and resources, especially when you have a larger website. You can easily add canonical tags by going to any duplicate web page and adding the rel=”canonical” tag. It would help to place this tag in your identical page’s <head> section. The link you set in the canonical tag must point to the main version.
If your website is created in WordPress, you have many plugins like Yoast SEO, etc., to add canonical tags.
How to implement canonical tags using Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress
– First thing is to choose the page for canonicalization
– Next, go near the “Advanced” section of the page
– Add the canonical URL you want to refer to.
In HTTP header
You can add canonical tags in the HTTP header of your web pages. To place this tag in the HTTP header, you have to access the .htaccess file of your site. Then you need to add the title in the form and submit the URL to Google Search Console so it can Fetch & Render to get the canonical crawled.
Access the .htaccess file of your site and add the following line:
Link: <https://www.mysite.com/random-document.pdf>; rel=”canonical”
Best practices for Canonical tag
- Your site’s SEO and UX can be improved if each page refers to itself via a canonical tag, or there should be a “view-all” page where all products can be visible in one overview. All paginated content should have a view-all page and rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags. It ensures that pages linked to those paginated pages can also be found by search engine crawlers and improve user experience.
- The Hreflang tag shows that another language version is available, and the canonical tag might make this version the original URL. If a website uses a hreflang tag as a URL, it should refer to itself as a canonical tag or not use it at all. But, you cannot use both hreflang and canonical tags simultaneously as Google receives conflicting signals.
- It would help if you decided whether to use the canonical tag to index your page or the noindex tag for not indexing the page. As we all know, the noindex tag conveys to Google that the URL should not be indexed. Placing a canonical tag on this page might confuse Google as a canonical URL means the page must be indexed. So be sure of what tags to be used.
Canonical tags tell search engines to crawl only one page, preventing duplicate content from being indexed. The same content can adversely affect SEO and can be detected using a duplicate content checker.
For more information, contact Ahbiv Digital Agency; we are here to help you understand how to use canonical tags and place them in your content.