What Are Canonical Tags? A Beginner Friendly Guide

Itching to study canonical tags? First, let me clarify why they’re related to your web site rating.

There’s been a longstanding perception that Google penalizes duplicate content material. In case you haven’t already heard, that’s not strictly true.

As Google search advocate John Muller explains:

“…it’s not a lot that there’s a unfavourable rating related to it,”

“It’s extra that if we discover precisely the identical info on a number of pages on the net, and somebody searches particularly for that piece of knowledge, then we’ll attempt to discover the most effective matching web page.”

Moreover, on its ‘how one can keep away from duplicate content material’ web page, Google states:

“Duplicate content material usually refers to substantive blocks of content material inside or throughout domains that both utterly match different content material in the identical language or are appreciably comparable.”

As Google makes clear, there are occasions when a web site proprietor has a real motive for having duplicate content material, like on-line shops or printer-only net pages. Nonetheless, these duplicate pages could cause confusion for search engines like google, and so they don’t all the time know which is the unique or which web page you need to prioritize.

How do you get previous this? You could try 301 redirects or use top-level domains, however you might additionally use a canonical tag URL.

When you’re questioning what canonical tags are, otherwise you need to understand how they may also help you, learn on to search out out extra.

The Fundamentals of Canonical Tags

In probably the most fundamental phrases, a canonical tag is an HTML snippet (rel=canonical). As I’ve touched on within the intro, you implement a canonical tag whenever you need to point out to the major search engines which is the unique web page. For instance, you may need a number of variations of a web page in case you’re an e-commerce web site proprietor or in case you’ve obtained a cellular and desktop model of your web site.

Now, in case you needed the major search engines to prioritize the cellular pages, you’d add a self-referencing canonical tag to the cellular model to inform the search engine to index that web page. Because of this the URL hooked up to the rel=canonical is the web page itself.

In different phrases, when you implement canonical tags, the search engines know which pages to dismiss and which of them to show within the SERPs.

Canonical tags are easy so as to add to your web page by together with rel=”canonical” in your header, however what does this do in your search engine optimisation?

How Do Canonical Tags Assist search engine optimisation?

Canonical tags are an important a part of any search engine optimisation technique, enabling your web site to rank increased. There are a number of methods they do that:

First, they inform search engines like google which URL model is the “right” one, stopping duplicate content material from rating decrease and making certain you get the fitting web page listed.

Additional, a canonical tag assists your search engine optimisation efforts in different methods, like:

Syndicated content material: Canonical tags assist you to higher handle syndicated content material. Once you syndicate content material from one web site to a different, it’s essential to make sure the major search engines nonetheless reference the unique content material. Simply add the rel=”canonical” tag to your header to point which web page you need to index.

Improved rankings: When you’ve a number of variations of a webpage or article, including a canonical signifies to the search engine you need folks to go to that particular web page, enhancing the unique rating.

Monitoring: canonical tags allow you to trace visitors from completely different sources. For instance, if in case you have two URL variations, say, one with www and one with out. This may also help you establish which model generates extra visitors and optimize your web site accordingly.

Common search engine crawling: Right here’s what Google has to say about crawling: “Google will select one URL because the canonical [main] model and crawl that, and all different URLs might be thought of duplicate URLs and crawled much less typically.” In different phrases, in case you don’t need Google to make the selection for you, then add a canonical tag.

Filtering for e-commerce shops: It’s not unusual for e-commerce stores to have massive volumes of duplicate content material that might look like this:

Example of duplicate content in ecommerce stores.

To make sure the major search engines index your most popular e-commerce web page, you would come with a canonical tag.

What Does A Canonical Tag Do?

As I’ve defined, canonical tags can inform search engines like google which model of a URL you need them to index. They’re also called “rel canonical” or a ‘canonical hyperlink aspect.’ You add a canonical tag to the <head> part of your web page, which looks like this:

What a canonical tag looks like.
Examples of canonical tags.

Once you use a canonical tag to inform the search engine which model you favor, it helps preserve your web site’s search engine optimisation constant and may also assist stop duplicate content material points.

What Are The Points With Duplicate Content material?

First, let’s clarify what duplicate content is.

We will outline duplicate content material as equivalent or comparable content material showing on a number of pages of your web site. A number of elements can contribute to duplication, similar to reprinting an article from one other web site, copying and pasting textual content from one web page to a different, or utilizing a number of URLs for a similar web page.

One other frequent trigger is unintentional duplication.

This may occur when two or extra pages have comparable titles and metadata, and it will probably happen when web site house owners syndicate their content material to different web sites or use software program to generate pages robotically.

A additional motive for duplicate content material is intentional duplication. Generally web site house owners create a number of variations of a web page in an try to govern search engine rankings. They might additionally copy and paste content material from different web sites to extend visitors or enhance their search engine optimisation rating – which is principally black hat search engine optimisation.

When a number of pages on a web site include the identical or very comparable content material, it will probably confuse search engines like google and dilute the rating energy of these pages, which stresses the significance of including a canonical tag.

How To Verify for Duplicate Content material

There are a couple of methods to determine duplicate content material in your web site.

The only is to do a Google web site search; this could seem like web site:yourdomain.com, and see if any outcomes present up that you simply didn’t count on. You probably have an XML sitemap, you may as well use Google’s “web site:www.yoursite.com” operator to test for duplicate pages.

Different strategies to test for duplicate content material are:

  • Checking your web site’s index standing in Google Search Console. Examine the variety of pages listed in Google with the variety of pages you assume ought to be listed. The outcomes might look one thing like this:
How to check for duplicate content.
  • Utilizing the “web site:instance.com” search operator to search out pages which are solely in your web site and never on different web sites.
  • Recognizing duplicate content material through the use of a instrument like Copyscape or Siteliner. These instruments will scan your web site and report any cases of copied textual content.
  • You would additionally use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your web site.

How To Implement Canonical Tags

There are two methods so as to add canonical tags to your pages: manually or with a plugin. When you’re including them manually, it is advisable to add a <hyperlink> tag to the <head> part of every web page that you simply need to canonize (make your primary/unique web page).

When you’re utilizing a plugin, many platforms give a easy method so as to add canonical tags to your pages. Under are a number of the choices for including tags to numerous primary internet hosting choices.

Implementing Canonical Tags in WordPress

When you’re utilizing WordPress, the simplest method so as to add a canonical tag is with a plugin. WordPress users can install it by:

  • Going to the set up web page on WordPress and choosing ‘Add new’
  • Search for the Yoast search engine optimisation plugin
  • Activate Yoast
  • Then go to the ‘after activation’ choice

You can even set up canonical tags manually by including some PHP code to the header, which seems to be like this:

Implementing canonical tags in wordpress.

Implementing Canonical Tags in Shopify

Shopify has a information explaining how to add a canonical tag url.

Or so as to add canonical tags manually, simply:

  • Go to your admin panel
  • Discover the ‘gross sales channels’ choice, go to ‘on-line retailer’ and click on ‘themes’
  • Choose the theme to edit, choose ‘actions’ then ‘edit code’
  • Go to format and select theme.liquid
  • Insert code into closing ‘head’ tag
  • Enter the code, which looks like this:
Implementing canonical tags in shopify.

Implementing Canonical Tags in Squarespace

Thankfully, canonical tags are easy to implement on Squarespace websites. Within the Squarespace editor, all it is advisable to do is:

  • Go to ‘Pages’
  • Select the gears choice
  • Choose ‘superior’ from the menu
  • Comply with the instructions from there.

Greatest Practices For Implementing Canonical Tags

With canonical tags, there are a couple of finest practices to bear in mind. First, all the time use a canonical tag when you’ve a number of web page variations.

Second, make certain the canonical tag factors to the proper web page. When you unintentionally level to the unsuitable web page, it may end up in decrease rankings for that web page. :


  • Use canonical tags on all duplicate pages; this ensures that the major search engines solely index one model of every web page.
  • Implement absolute URLs when specifying the canonical tag to allow search engines like google to index pages accurately.
  • Solely specify one rel=”canonical” tag per web page.

One good thought is to just be sure you audit your canonical tags to assist determine any potential implementation points and proper them. SiteChecker gives a free trial of a canonical URL checker.

Lastly, solely use canonical tags when vital; too many canonicals can hurt your site’s ranking potential.


What is An Instance of a Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag seems to be like this: instance.com?gown=1234 and instance.com/clothes/1234 (Supply: Google).

Is a Canonical Tag Needed? 

Some folks argue that canonical tags are pointless, as Google has acknowledged that they don’t use them as a ranking factor. Nonetheless, if you wish to keep away from duplication points and have a most popular web page you need to direct visitors to, then a canonical tag will be the method to go. 


A canonical tag is essential for serving to search engines like google perceive the connection between pages on a web site. Canonical tags can stop duplicate content material points and enhance your SEO efforts, permitting your most popular pages to get listed by search engines like google.

There are important advantages to including canonical tags, similar to improved net web page efficiency, extra common crawling, and simpler monitoring. They’re additionally highly beneficial for e-commerce site owners who typically have a number of pages of duplicate content material.

Though there are different strategies you might use, a canonical tag is fast to implement, and main platforms like WordPress and Shopify have choices so as to add plugins to simplify the duty.

Do you utilize canonical tags? How have they helped you?

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