What is a Canonical Link?
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Did you know that your URL plays a major role in search engine optimization? Many people don’t, but it’s true. While the body of your text is important, your URL plays a large role and answer these questions. More specifically, canonical links play a vital role in boosting your blog’s SEO.
Canonical URLs are a great way to boost your SEO and keep yourself high on the search results. They’re extremely important, but many people aren’t even aware of them, let alone how to make use of them.
What is a canonical URL? What do they do, and how do they affect SEO? Let’s take a look and answer these questions.
What is a Canonical URL?
Canonical URLs have been around for over a decade. They were originally invented by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo in a joint effort. Their main purpose is to avoid issues with duplicate content.
What are they? Also called canonical tags, they are a piece of HTML code in your website. This tag is used to define the main page for duplicate or similar pages.
What this means is that if your site has several different pages with similar content on them, you can use the canonical tag to determine which one should be indexed. The canonical page will be the one that shows up in online searches.
This makes them an invaluable tool for SEO. Duplicate results are a bane for websites everywhere. Having a simple way to specify which pages should be indexed is a great way to avoid this.
How do you use a canonical tag? Let’s look at how you can implement them into your website code.
How to Use Canonical URL Tags
All websites are built out of code, primarily HTML code. Canonical tags are pieces of HTML code that are added when building your webpage.
Canonical tags go in the <head> section of your HTML code. They should look a little something like this:
<link rel=”canonical” href=“https://yourpage.com/canonicalpage/” />
What does all of that code mean? To put it simply, “link rel” tells the search engine that this particular page is the canonical result. This means that this is the page that will be indexed by the engine.
The URL that follows is the URL of the page in question. That tells the search engine exactly which page it needs to index.
This single line of code is all you need to define a webpage as canonical. It’s very simple to implement, but it pays dividends in your site’s SEO.
When Should You Use Canonical Tags?
Canonical tags have a couple of different uses. For example, if a page on your site can be accessed from more than one URL. This most commonly happens with the homepage. Canonical tags will define which of these should be indexed in search engines.
There are other circumstances where duplicates can occur. If you have a session ID on your site, such as for storefronts, you can use the canonical tag to make sure only the default version of the page is indexed.
Similarly, if your content is available in multiple formats, such as PDFs, or on multiple websites, you can use canonical tags to specify which one should be indexed.
This helps ensure that search engine traffic is directed where you want it to go. And by preventing duplicate results, it can greatly optimize your website’s SEO.
Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at all the ways canonical tags benefit SEO optimization.
How Canonical URLs Optimize SEO
Canonical URLs are one of the most vital parts of good SEO practices. Duplicate content is a major issue for SEO, and has a negative impact on your search results.
Duplicate content makes it difficult for search engines to effectively index your site. It makes it hard for engines to know which version of a page to index and rank for search queries.
Effective use of canonical URL tags eliminates these problems. If left alone, Google and other engines will make these decisions for you. This can lead to versions of pages being indexed and ranked that are not the ones you want.
By specifying this with a canonical tag, you bypass this issue altogether. Using these tags allows you to know exactly which parts of your site are being given priority, making it easier to plan your SEO strategy.
This is especially important for websites that can have multiple versions of the same page. Online marketplaces or other sites where users can log in or set filters have this issue the most.
For example, if an online marketplace lets users filter by type of content, that creates duplicate pages. Each version of that page may look the same, but the URLs will all be slightly different, as they include tags to control the filter.
Google will look at all of those since they index URLs rather than pages. This creates a problem, because now any of these filtered pages can be indexed by Google for your search results.
This is very bad for SEO, because it clutters your presence in the search results. It also makes it much harder for Google to know which version of your page to index, and where to rank it in searches.
By adding canonical tags, you can avoid this issue altogether. Google will know exactly which version of the page is the main one, and will index that URL for its search results.
Implement Canonical URLs in Your Website
Canonical URLs are a useful tool for any website. By allowing you to specify which pages should be indexed on your site, they allow you to better manage your SEO.
Hopefully, if you were asking yourself “What is a canonical URL,” we’ve answered that question, and shown you why you need to be using them for your site.
Have any other questions about effectively running your website? Be sure to check out the rest of our site. From our free blogging guides to our many blog posts, we’ve got plenty of information to help you on your way.