April 13, 2024

Understanding canonical URLs is important in search engine optimization. 

Learn the way you need to use canonical tags (and different canonicalization strategies) to affect canonical URLs. And enhance your website’s efficiency on Google.

Let’s dive in.

What Is a Canonical URL?

A canonical URL is the URL for the “primary” model of a duplicated web page, as decided by search engines like google like Google.

For instance:

  • Canonical URL: https://instance.com/weblog/
  • Alternate URL: https://instance.com/weblog/?web page=1

Be aware: The canonical web page can also be referred to as the “principal,” “major,” or “consultant” model.

Google dislikes duplicate pages. As a result of it doesn’t wish to serve repeat search outcomes. Or waste assets on pages that supply no distinctive worth.

So, when Google finds duplicate (or near-identical) pages on a web site, it selects a canonical URL to symbolize all of them. Then prioritizes this web page throughout indexing and rating. 

Google doesn’t all the time make the choice you need. 

Nonetheless, you’ll be able to affect canonicalization by utilizing canonical tags. And some other methods.

What Is a Canonical Tag?

Canonical tags, also called canonical hyperlinks or rel=“canonical”tags, will let you affect canonicalization. 

Google considers your specified rel=“canonical” tags when selecting canonical URLs (however doesn’t depend on them utterly).

Discovered within the <head> part of a webpage’s HTML supply code, a canonical tag appears like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/" />

an image highlighting "alternate URL" and "Canonical Tag"

Sometimes, canonical tags level from an alternate web page to the popular web page.

an illustration of canonical tag pointing from an alternate page to a preferred one

But it surely’s additionally a good suggestion to make use of self-referencing canonicals

In different phrases, every canonical web page ought to have a canonical tag that factors to its personal URL.

Like this:

an image highlighting "self-referencing canonical"

Google’s John Mueller confirmed the significance of self-referencing canonicals.

“It’s not essential to have a self-referencing canonical tag on a web page, nevertheless it does make it simpler for us to choose precisely the URL that you just wish to have chosen as canonical,” he said in a Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout.

Canonical tags are a invaluable deduplication instrument. They will resolve points with duplicate content material (or near-identical pages) you should hold.

For instance: 

  • American English and British English variations of the identical web page
  • Parameterized URLs (e.g., listings pages with filters or sorting choices utilized)

Why keep away from duplicate content material?

As a result of it may trigger key phrase cannibalization. This happens when a number of pages on a website compete for a similar rankings. And hurt one another’s rankings within the course of. 

Through the use of canonical tags appropriately, you assist Google perceive your website’s construction. And determine the perfect model of a duplicated web page.

This helps be certain that the model you need is the one proven in search outcomes (and the one searchers entry). This will result in increased click-through, engagement, and conversion charges.

Plus, Google consolidates the “rating energy” of alternate pages on canonical URLs.

Let’s say you might have backlinks (hyperlinks from exterior domains) pointing to varied duplicate pages. 

If these pages canonicalize, Google will deal with all of them as hyperlinks to the canonical URL. Collectively, they’ve a constructive influence on rankings.

an illustration of backlinks, alternate URLs and canonical URLs connection

Be aware: Google no longer recommends utilizing canonical tags for syndicated content material. As a substitute, syndication companions are suggested to dam indexing with the correct meta tags.

To implement canonical tags in your HTML, you’ll be able to add the rel=”canonical” tag to the <head> part of the web page. 

As a reminder, that appears one thing like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/" />

However your content material administration system (CMS) or a CMS plugin could will let you specify canonicals with out going into the HTML. 

Preserve studying for directions on Magento 1, Magento 2, WordPress, and Wix.

Or leap forward to find out about other canonicalization methods.

Magento 1

If you happen to’re operating a Magento 1 retailer, observe these steps to specify canonical URLs for product and class pages.

Product Web page Canonicals

Log into your admin panel, then head to “System” > “Configuration.” 

Click on “Catalog” and open the “Search Engine Optimizations” part.

where to specify canonical URLs for product and category pages in Magento 1

If it isn’t already, set the “Use Canonical Hyperlink Meta Tag For Merchandise” subject to “Sure.”

set the “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products” field to “Yes”

Class Canonicals

Head again to the “Search Engine Optimizations” part on the “Catalog” web page.

Discover the “Use Canonical Hyperlink Meta Tag For Classes” choice and ensure it’s set to “No.”

set the “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories” option to "No"

Now, you’ll be able to manually specify the canonical URL for classes.

Head to the edit web page of any class that you just wish to canonicalize and discover the “Customized Design” tab.

Within the “Customized Structure Replace” field, add the next code. Ensuring to swap in your canonical URL.

<reference title="head">
<motion technique="addLinkRel">
<rel>canonical</rel>
<href>https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/</href>
</motion>
</reference>

“Custom Layout Update” box in Magento 1

Magento 2

If you happen to’re operating a Magento 2 retailer, observe these steps to specify canonical URLs throughout your website.

Log into your admin panel, then go to “Shops” > “Settings” > “Configuration.”

Subsequent, open “Catalog” > “Catalog” and go to the “Search Engine Optimization” part.

“Search Engine Optimization” section in Magento 2
Picture Credit score: Amasty.com

Set “Use Canonical Meta Tags For Classes” to “Sure” so Magento will mechanically add canonical tags to alternate class pages.

The default config path is “catalog/website positioning/category_canonical_tag.”

Additionally set “Use Canonical Meta Tags For Merchandise” to “Sure” so Magento will mechanically add canonical tags to alternate product pages.

The default config path is “catalog/website positioning/product_canonical_tag.”

WordPress

You’ll be able to set canonical URLs in your WordPress website by utilizing a WordPress search engine optimization plugin. 

We’ll take a look at how to do that with two of the preferred plugins: Yoast search engine optimization and Rank Math search engine optimization.

Yoast search engine optimization Plugin

If you happen to’re utilizing the Yoast SEO plugin, head to the Yoast search engine optimization choices on any web page or put up. 

Then, increase the “Superior” tab. 

You’ll discover a “Canonical URL” subject the place you’ll be able to specify the web page’s canonical URL.

“Advanced” tab in Yoast SEO options

Rank Math search engine optimization Plugin

If you happen to’re utilizing the Rank Math SEO plugin, head to the “Rank Math search engine optimization” field on any web page or put up. And open the “Superior” tab.

The “Canonical URL” subject lets you specify the canonical URL for the web page.

“Advanced” tab in “Rank Math SEO” box

Wix

By default, Wix pages use a self-referencing canonical tag.

You’ll be able to change the construction of your canonical tags by going into your search engine optimization settings.

First, head to “Advertising & search engine optimization” > “search engine optimization” > “search engine optimization Settings.” After which select the kind of web page that you just wish to edit.

For this workflow, we chosen “Most important Pages.” 

"Edit by page type" section in Wix “SEO Settings”

After choosing the kind of web page, click on on the “Edit” button inside the “Extra meta tags” part.

“Edit” button within the “Additional meta tags” section highlighted

Lastly, add variables to the sphere beneath “canonical” by clicking on “+ Add Variable.” And choosing related gadgets from the record that seems.

adding variables section with a drop-down menu

You may also edit the canonical tags of particular person pages. Simply click on on the “Edit by Web page” tab and choose the web page with the canonical tag that you just wish to edit.

Then, click on on the “Superior” tab within the sidebar that seems. And go to “Extra tags.”

image guiding readers how to edit the canonical tags of individual pages

Lastly, edit the hyperlink that seems within the “canonical” subject.

“canonical” field highlighted

Different Methods to Specify Canonical URLs

Sometimes, you specify canonical URL preferences utilizing canonical tags. However there are different strategies you’ll be able to attempt:

Figuring out which kind of canonicalization to make use of helps you management how your website seems on Google. And it may forestall points that come up on account of duplicate content material.

Let’s take a look at these deduplication strategies in additional element.

A rel=“canonical” HTTP header lets you specify a canonical URL for non-HTML paperwork.

For instance, if in case you have a .docx and .pdf model of the identical doc on-line, you need to use this technique to point your most well-liked model.

Nonetheless, you want to have the ability to change your server’s configuration.

Within the .htaccess file, specify a canonical URL by including code that appears like this:

Hyperlink: <https://www.instance.com/downloads/filename.pdf>; rel="canonical"

Redirect Duplicate Pages to Canonical Pages

URL redirects ship Google (and customers) from one web page to a different. 

Redirecting is the perfect deduplication technique when you don’t must hold the alternate variations of the web page. However you don’t wish to delete the URLs altogether.

For instance, when you might have HTTP and HTTPS variations of the identical web page. Google prefers HTTPS variations. So, it’s good to your search engine optimization to redirect the HTTP model to the HTTPS one.

Google recommends using 3xx redirects (server-side redirects) for the quickest outcomes. 

This consists of the 301 redirect, which you’ll be able to be taught extra about in our 301 redirect information.

Record Canonical URLs Solely in Your Sitemap

“All pages listed in a sitemap are recommended as canonicals,” according to Google.

This implies it’s a good suggestion to submit canonical URLs (and non-duplicated pages) solely in your sitemap. And depart alternate URLs out. 

It’s not an enormous difficulty when you depart duplicate pages in your sitemap. Google will resolve which model is canonical. 

But it surely might be an issue when you depart most well-liked URLs out. So, hold your sitemap up to date.

If you happen to don’t implement canonicals appropriately, Google may ignore them. And that may hurt your search engine optimization efficiency.

Observe these canonical tag finest practices for the perfect outcomes:

Solely Specify One Canonical URL Per Web page

Solely specify one canonical URL per web page. In any other case, you’ll confuse Google.

Watch out to keep away from by chance together with two canonical tags inside your web page’s HTML code. If you happen to set the canonical tag utilizing a setting in your CMS, don’t add extra canonical tags into your HTML manually.

And when you add rel=“canonical” to the HTML, don’t additionally add it to the HTTP header.

Specify the Right Area Protocol

In case your website sits on the HTTPS protocol, you should definitely reference this as your canonical URL. 

Take a look at our information to be taught extra about redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS.

Specify Trailing Slash or Non-Trailing Slash URLs

Take note of whether or not your pages use trailing slashes (i.e., “/” symbols on the finish of URLs). 

For instance: 

  • Trailing slash: https://instance.com/
  • Non-trailing slash: https://instance.com

If the identical URL exists with each the trailing slash and with out, Google might even see them as two separate URLs. Be sure you reference your canonical URL appropriately by together with the trailing slash if wanted.

And attempt to be constant throughout your website.

Specify Non-WWW or WWW URLs

Non-WWW and WWW variations of a URL are seen as duplicate pages by search engines like google. 

For instance: 

  • Non-WWW: https://instance.com/
  • WWW: https://www.instance.com/

It’s finest to decide on one model and keep it up throughout your total website.

Use Absolute URLs

Canonical tags needs to be referenced utilizing absolute URLs moderately than relative URLs.

Which means it’s best to use the complete URL, together with your area. Like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/weblog/" />

And never a relative URL. Like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="/weblog/" />

It’s simple to make errors when implementing canonical tags. 

Listed here are two of the extra frequent canonical tag errors:

Pointing Canonical Tags to Redirected Pages

Watch out to not specify a canonical URL that redirects. This may solely confuse Google.

For instance, let’s say Web page A redirects to Web page B.

You should have no canonicals that time to Web page A. They need to level on to Web page B as an alternative.

Utilizing Canonical Tags for Non-Duplicate Content material

Solely set canonical URLs for duplicate or near-identical content material. 

Some SEOs attempt to use canonical tags to consolidate the rating energy of dissimilar pages. 

For instance, to direct authority from out-of-stock product pages to class pages.

Nonetheless, Google advises against this observe. And is extremely more likely to ignore these canonicals.

Discover out what Google considers to be the canonical URL for any web page in your web site with Google Search Console.

After logging in, seek for a URL on the prime.

search for a URL in Google Search Console

When the “URL Inspection” report is prepared, open the “Web page indexing” part.

Scroll right down to see the “Google-selected canonical.”

“Page indexing” section in Google Search Console

If this isn’t your most well-liked URL, it’s possible you’ll must evaluate the deduplication technique in your web page. 

To begin, make it possible for the “Person-declared canonical” is current and proper.

“User-declared canonical” section highlighted in Google Search Console

To audit your website’s canonical tags at scale, use Semrush’s Website Audit instrument.

As soon as setup is full, go to the “Points” tab.

Then search “canonical.”

search "canonical" in “Issues” tab in Site Audit

Test for the next errors:

Site Audit results showing the list of different issues and errors

Let’s take a look at what these points are and the right way to repair them.

# Pages Have Duplicate Content material Points

This error reveals what number of pages in your website might be thought of duplicates. As a result of they function content material that’s not less than 85% similar to content material on one other web page.

Click on the hyperlink to see affected URLs.

"17,764 pages have duplicate content issues" page

You’ll be able to then resolve the right way to resolve the difficulty. See our duplicate content material information for recommendation.

# Pages Have A number of Canonical URLs

This error reveals what number of pages in your website specify a couple of canonical URL.

Click on the hyperlink to view an in depth breakdown.

"3 pages have multiple canonical URLs" page

To repair this difficulty, you should take away the additional canonical tag(s) and depart only one in place. 

This difficulty reveals which pages in your website have damaged canonical hyperlinks—i.e., specify a canonical URL that doesn’t work.

(Maybe as a result of it accommodates a typo. Or the web page has been deleted.)

Click on the hyperlink to see affected pages and the canonical URLs they level to.

"120 pages with a broken canonical link" page

Canonical tags that time to non-existent webpages complicate Google’s capability to crawl and index your content material correctly. That might hurt your rankings.

Make sure that to replace these to the right canonical URLs.

# AMP Pages Have No Canonical Tag

When your AMP pages don’t have canonical tags, the Website Audit instrument flags it as a difficulty. It’s vital that canonicalization be in place between AMP and non-AMP variations of your web page.

You’ll be able to repair this downside by including a rel=”canonical” tag within the <head> part of every AMP web page that factors again to the non-AMP web page.

Like this:

how to fix when an AMP page doesn’t have canonical tag

Tip: You should utilize the examine containers and “Ship to…” button at any stage to create duties within the Semrush CRM, Trello, or Zapier. 

“Send to…” button in Site Audit with drop-down menu options: "CRM", "Trello" and "Zapier"

While you’ve mounted these points, rerun the Website Audit utilizing the gear icon within the upper-right. 

gear icon in the upper-right highlighted

Then, examine that the canonical errors have disappeared. 

"Errors" section in Site Audit showing "0 errors"

Prepared to begin addressing canonical points? Get began with Website Audit.


This put up was up to date in 2023. Excerpts from the unique article by James Brockbank could stay.