What is Canonical URL ? – SEO Best Practices for Canonical Tags + the Rel=Canonical Tag
Much is said about canonical SEO and its good practices.
A concept that despite the fact that many SEOs know well and know how to use it, gives several problems in SEO strategies, and sometimes, there are certain doubts about the real operation and the impact it has.
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What is Canonical Tag? – Canonical URL
The canonical is a mechanism by which we indicate to the search engines the page that we want to position if we have multiple similar pages.
In this way we avoid positioning drops due to duplicate content and together with other good SEO practices, we can give more strength to the URLs that matter most to us .
The canonical SEO itself works in a similar way to a 301 redirect, since when the robot detects the canonical it transfers authority to the canonized URL.
The main difference between a 301 redirect and a canonical is that redirects are used to indicate that the URL content has been moved, while the canonical is used to indicate that the page is a duplicate of another.
When Will we use a Canonical Tag/Url ?
Look, 👀 I give you some examples of moments in which it is convenient to use canonicals in projects:
Let’s imagine that we have an online store in which we do not position the products and we have multiple pages.
In this case, we would be interested in making canonical from the pages to the main page of the pages.
Now imagine that we have an online store in which we do position the products and we have multiple pages.
In this case, the canonicals of the web should not point to the main page, they should point to the pagination itself.
We make use of utms variables for the labeling of our website and to be able to better measure the campaigns when they arrive from social networks, media, advertising campaigns, emails, etc.
In this situation, the use of canonical will prevent duplicate URLs from being created with variables.
We have a product that we position in our online store with several colors and only the URL changes to identify the color , but the content is the same and the product with the colors is not searched, only the product itself is searched.
Here one of the products would be canonical and we would try to enhance the links to the URL with the canonical.
In this case, we also have a product that we position in our online store with several colors and only the URL changes to identify the color, but the content is different and the product with the colors is searched .
Depending on the searches and how competitive it is, we have to assess whether we want to do as in example 4 or if it is better to make use of different and unique canonicals for each of these URLs.
How to Insert or use Canonical Url/Tag in SEO
There are several ways to insert a canonical on a website, some more popular than others … and now I’m going to tell you what some of them consist of. 👇👇👇
Using the link rel = ”canonical” tag
To make use of the tag we must insert the following html code inside the <head> tags of our website:
& lt; link rel = "canonical" href = "https//seogearup.com" / & gt;
In case of having a mobile variant we will also insert:
& lt; link rel = "alternate" media = "only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href = "https://seogearup.com" & gt;
It is important that the URLs are not relative routes, but direct routes, as it could cause problems in tracking them.
This method only works for HTML pages , for PDF we cannot make use of this method
Use in HTTP HEADER rel = “canonical”
To insert the canonical via server response, you need to modify the HTTP header:
Link: & lt; https: //seogearup.com/informe.pdf> ;; rel = "canonical"
In this case, we could assign canonicals to PDF files with this method.
We can also insert this instruction from our .htaccess file by inserting the following lines
</p> <pre class = "wp-block-preformatted"> & lt; Files "report.pdf" & gt; Header add Link "& lt; https: //seogearup.com/informe.pdf> ;; rel = canonical" & lt; / Files & gt; </pre> <p>
This may vary depending on the version of apache that we have installed.
The good thing about this method is that it saves us from having to put lines of code on the web , but it is quite difficult to maintain this system for large webs.
Use in Sitemap – Canonical Tag
All the urls that appear in the Sitemap are considered as canonical urls. If there are duplicate pages within the Sitemap, here the search engines make a decision based on how they work.
For this reason it is important to have the URLs that you want to position only within the Sitemap.
Another downside to this method is that the signal sent with Sitemap is much weaker than that sent with rel = ”canonical” .
If using AMP versions on the web, it is necessary to follow the AMP guidelines.
For this we will insert canonical in the AMP version of the page:
</p> <pre> <span class = "p"> & lt; </span> <span class = "nt"> link </span> <span class = "na"> rel </span> <span class = "o" > = </span> <span class = "s"> "canonical" </span> <span class = "na"> href </span> <span class = "or"> = </span> <span class = "s"> "https://seogearup.com/" </span> <span class = "p"> & gt; </span> </pre> <p>
And in the canonical version we will insert rel = ”amphtml” to the amp version of the web:
</p> <div class = "- tf"> <pre> <span class = "p"> & lt; </span> <span class = "nt"> link </span> <span class = "na"> rel </span> <span class = "o" > = </span> <span class = "s"> "amphtml" </span> <span class = "na"> href </span> <span class = "or"> = </span> <span class = "s"> "https://seogearup.com/amp/" </span> <span class = "p"> & gt; </span> </pre> </div> <p>
How do I insert canonical URLs in CMS
For some CMS we have the existence of plugins that can save us work to insert or modify canonicals manually or automatically:
- WordPress : with YOAST or RankMath plugins .
- Prestashop : the canonical SEO module takes care of this task.
Canonical URLs good practices
There are some good practices for using canonical URLs… and in this post, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to tell you about some of these guidelines so that you can apply them in your project .
Take note! 😉
- Don’t specify canonical URLs in robots.txt.
- Make sure the canonical URL and the Sitemap URL match or it may cause problems.
- Don’t insert noindex to a canonical page.
- Remember to specify a canonical page when using hreflang tags.
- Insert internal web links to the canonical version of the URL.
- Use https instead of http in the canonical version of URLs.
- Keep in mind that the use of these are only to avoid duplicate content.
How to verify the canonical URLs of a website
To verify or check the canonical URLs of a website, we can see it in multiple ways .
Currently there are plugins for Chrome that allow you to verify it , such as MOZ tool bar, SeoQuake, META SEO Inspector , etc.
We can also make use of Screaming Frog SEO Spider . By crawling our website we can quickly identify the canonical URLs of our website:
And if we are not convinced by either of these two methods, we can access the web code directly with the right button of the mouse and inspect or view the source code of the page.
To speed up the search process, we can use the keyboard shortcuts by pressing Ctrl + F or Cmd + F at the same time. When the search box opens, we will see it highlighted like this in the code:
The importance of the canonical
Canonical SEO helps us avoid duplicate content on our website.
Therefore, it is important to always have it raised as an active basis in our development to avoid future problems with URLs.
In this way we will avoid penalties and improve our website in SEO positioning .
The truth is that having canonical SEO is very, very important …
But, you need to spend time to see how to implement it and then verify that everything is correct .
Also, you may need to learn SEO to have some technical knowledge to make sure you do it correctly.
If you want, we can help you! 🤗