What is canonical tag?

What is canonical tag

What is a canonical tag? How can I use it to enhance the SEO of a webpage? And is it necessary? Well, let’s find out.

What is canonical tag? A conical tag or as it’s called “rel canonical” refers to an HTML code that shows search engines which one is the main page and which one is a duplication. For example, let’s say that you sell a product that falls under a different category, then for each category the product will have a different URL and they all have the same content. When search engines scan those different URLs they get confused and can’t tell which one is the main page to display in search results and which is a duplication. Therefore, conical tags are added to the URL to eliminate any misunderstanding and show search engines which URL to display in search results.

Okay, now I know how important it is to use conical tags, but where should I put it? Conical tags are added to the head section of a webpage. Here’s how it’s done:

<link rel=“canonical” href=“webpage link” />

The first part of the code, link rel=“canonical” shows the search engine that this is the master webpage to display in the search engine. While the second half, href=“webpage link”, shows the search engine the URL of the page.

 

Why is canonical tag used?

Conical tags are used to show search engines which one is the main page and which one is duplication. When search engines find more than one URL with the same content it gets confused and can’t tell which URL to show in search results. Hence all the pages with duplicated content get a low rank in search engines. Therefore, conical tags are added to the URL to eliminate any misunderstanding and show search engines which URL to display in search results.

Also having duplicated URLs can affect your “crawl budget.”. what does that mean? Search engine wastes their time crawling n the duplicated versions of the same page instead of discovering the important content on your website. That’s what makes conical tags important as they differentiate the main page from its duplications, saving time for search engines to find the new and important content of your website.  

Now if you don’t have a conical tag what will search engines do? They will choose one of the URLs that they see as the better version and set it as the main page. And that’s not a good thing, they might end up using a URL that is not the best version of your content.  

 

Is a canonical tag necessary?

In a matter of fact, conical tags are really important for your website, do you know why? Because when search engines find duplicated content they get confused and can’t figure out which one to show in search engines which will lead to having a low rank in search engines, which causes a big problem for the SEO of your webpage.

For example, let’s say that you sell a product that falls under a different category, then for each category the product will have a different URL and they all have the same content. When search engines scan those different URLs they get confused and can’t tell which one is the main page to display in search results and which is a duplication. Therefore, conical tags are added to the URL to eliminate any misunderstanding and show search engines which URL to display in search results.

But that’s not the only use of conical tags, let’s say you have published an article on another website as a guest and you want to add it to your website, what will you do? If you just published a copy of it search engines will see it as duplicated content. Therefore, you should post it with a canonical link to the main version.

Duplicated content causes many problems, not just to search engines but to your rank in search results and the SEO of your website. Search engines will waste their time crawling within the duplicated content trying to figure out which one is the original. All the time wasted will be taken from you, and search engines will not have time to crawl into the new or important content of your website which affects your “crawl budget.”

Another problem is when having many duplicated contents, your ranking will be lowered in search engine results. The third problem is that search engines will choose one of the URLs that they see as a better version and set it as the main page. And, that’s not a good thing, they might end up using a URL that is not the best version of your content.  

Now you might think “why would I even have a duplicated page?” well, you might have it but you don’t even realize it. To us humans, we can see the different URLs as the same one, but that’s not the case to search engines. Any slight change in the URL is seen as a new URL. Let’s take an example:

http://www.example.com

https://www.example.com

what is the difference between those two URLs? To you, it’s just the “s” added to “HTTP”, but what you don’t realize here is that this makes a great difference to search engines and it represents different URLs.

 

Where to put canonical tag?

where should I put it? Conical tags are added to the head section of a webpage. Here’s how it’s done:

<link rel=“canonical” href=“webpage link” />

The first part of the code, link rel=“canonical” shows the search engine that this is the master webpage to display in the search engine. While the second half, href=“webpage link”, it shows the search engine the URL of the main page.

There are multiple ways to add conical tags, the easiest one is to add them on a page-by-page basis; however, it will consume a lot of time, and most of the time it’s impossible to do for large websites. Lucky for us this can be done automatically by using plugins like Yoast SEO. It’s actually really easy and straightforward, all you will do is:

Choosing the page to set the conical tag or as it is called “canonicalization”.

In the advanced section of the page add the canonical URL that you wish to refer to

 

Should every page have a canonical tag?

You might say “I don’t have a duplicated page, is it important to have conical tags?” well, you might have duplicated pages but you don’t even realize it. To us humans we can’t see the difference in URLs, but that’s not the case to search engines. Any slight change in the URL is seen as a new URL. Let’s take an example:

http://www.example.com

https://www.example.com

what is the difference between those two URLs? To you, it’s just the “s” added to “HTTP”, but what you don’t realize here is that this makes a great difference to search engines and it represents different URLs.

Therefore, yes it’s important to have conical tags for major pages even if they don’t have any duplication or similar content.

 Read More

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