What Is A Canonical Tag?

You may have heard of canonical tags while researching SEO, but what are canonical tags, and why are they important? A canonical tag in SEO means that the URL that you use for a piece of content will be acknowledged by search engines as the original, primary source of that piece of content. Google will show that your content was the original, and any duplicates of that content will not be mistaken as the original copy. Google can then organize the original and duplicate content accordingly.

Why Is A Canonical URL Important?

A canonical tag comes in handy because it serves as a sort of digital copyright. In the worst-case scenario, a canonical tag can differentiate your primary website from another website that has copied your content without your consent. But otherwise, when legitimate situations arise when you need to duplicate or share content, it keeps a track of which content came first. 

What Is An Example Of A Canonical URL?

One of the most common ways to set a canonical URL is to add the HTML tag, which will appear as “rel=canonical.” This phrase is placed at the beginning of the URL and allows for search engine algorithms to identify the page and prioritize it appropriately with similar pages.  

For example, let us suppose that your website has the following URL:

https://yourownwebsite.com/your-content/  

To make that URL canonical, you can add the HTML tag to the “head” section of a duplicate page. This establishes the canonical URL. With the HTML tag, the URL will appear as the following:

<link rel=“canonical” href=“https://yourownwebsite.com/your-content/”/>

The Takeaway

Canonical tags play a role in a business’s SEO strategy. 

  • They narrow down which URL should be ranked in search results. 
  • They consolidate links across duplicate or similar pages.
  • They can organize syndicated content.
  • They can prevent Googlebot from crawling on duplicate pages.

While there are plenty of good reasons why a business, especially a large company with many pages, would have duplicate pages and duplicate domains. Managing canonical tags appropriately can help prevent unnecessary penalties for SEO and they can help Google index your content effectively.

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