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What is a Canonical URL or Canonical Tag?

Canonicalization was introduced in 2009 by Google, Bing, and Yahoo! A canonical tag or rel=“canonical” is how you tell search engines that a specific URL is the one you want to be ranked for. They are especially useful when a website has similar or duplicate content in different URLs.

Canonicalizing is the best way to go if:

  –  The content from the duplicate and the original URL are identical or remarkably similar.

  –  The content from both URLs serves the same search intent.

  –  You are updating or refreshing your content.

With the use of canonical tags, Google intended to eliminate problems with ‘duplicate’ content. These issues occur when the same or very similar content appears on multiple URLs.

Sometimes, something as insignificant as different font types in various sections of your website gets marked as duplicate. That’s why using the canonical attribute to mark the original URL is necessary.

Duplicate content can have adverse effects on your SEO strategy. Search bots can miss on a lot of relevant information on your website if they must navigate through a lot of duplicate data first. Also, your ranking can take a hit. By confusing the original URL with a different one, your site can drop in the rankings when it comes to search results.

How can I avoid this?

There are ways to canonicalize multiple URLs and save you some problems.

  –  Rel=canonical. This is simply a line of code in your HTML document that tells search engines that this particular URL is the original. It allows search engines to determine which sites to display on the SERPs.

  –  301 redirect. It’s a code that tells Google to ignore all other URLs and pay attention to the one you want. This is done by redirecting the duplicate URLs to the original.

  –  You can go into your Google Search Console and manually tell Google what parameters you want to be passive.