Canonical tags are HTML tags used by search engines to identify the original or preferred version of a webpage when multiple versions of the same content are available. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about canonical tags.
What is a canonical tag? A canonical tag, also known as a rel=”canonical” tag, is a line of HTML code that tells search engines which version of a webpage is the primary or original version. It is used to avoid duplicate content issues that can occur when a website has multiple URLs that lead to the same content.
Why are canonical tags important? Canonical tags are important for SEO because they help search engines identify the original version of a webpage, which can prevent duplicate content penalties and ensure that the correct page is shown in search results. This can help improve a website’s search engine rankings and overall visibility.
When should you use a canonical tag? You should use a canonical tag when there are multiple versions of the same content on your website, such as:
- When you have multiple pages with very similar or identical content
- When you have multiple versions of the same page, such as http and https or www and non-www versions
- When you have duplicate content on your website that you cannot remove, such as content syndication or printer-friendly versions of a page
How to implement a canonical tag Implementing a canonical tag is a simple process. Here are the steps:
- Determine the original or preferred version of the page. This should be the version that you want search engines to index and display in search results.
- Add the canonical tag to the header section of the non-preferred version of the page. The tag should look like this:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/original-version/" />
Replace “https://www.example.com/original-version/” with the URL of the original or preferred version of the page.
- Repeat this process for each non-preferred version of the page that has a canonical URL.
Tips for using canonical tags
- Use self-referential canonical tags to ensure that each page references itself as the original version.
- Make sure that the canonical URL is a valid URL that resolves to a working page.
- Use 301 redirects to redirect non-preferred versions of the page to the original version.
- Avoid using canonical tags for pages that have very different content.
- Use the same canonical URL across all versions of the page to ensure consistency.
Conclusion Canonical tags are an essential tool for SEO that can help prevent duplicate content issues and improve search engine rankings. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can implement canonical tags on your website and ensure that search engines display the correct version of your content in search results.