What Is A Canonical Tag And How Can It Help Your SEO?


Digital marketing is a world so huge on its own that one can get overwhelmed with its components and what they do. There seems to be so much to learn that it could be tricky to know which should be put first and which is fine to be at the far end.

Newbie or not, the terms can be a hard to understand.

We knew about back links, keywords, and meta descriptions. HTML tags and the likes, but what about the canonical tag? Is it something so important in SEO that we should all make it a point to learn about it, how to use it, what to do with it?

  • A canonical tag came from the root word “canon”, which was often used in relation to the church or the Bible, or better said, the standard of judgment. In the computer age, canonical tags are now used to tag an authentic work of an author online.
  • Simply put, a canonical tag will show Google, as well as other search engines, the original location of a specific content. It will lessen the possibility of search engines seeing negativity on your website due to duplicated content caused by multiple URLs and at times, careless errors committed on your website’s pages.
  • It is important to use them like a copyright to your work, or a patent if you may. Canonical tags make search engines determine which website published the original content. As we all know, duplicate content is now rampant, even when plagiarism laws have been tightened. Every website can be a victim, as anyone can just copy your published pages and content saying it is their own.

Where does duplicate content come from?


  • Multiple URLs. These are the types of links created by the web when you search for something and then you try to filter them by clicking sections in the page. When you do that, those URLs can be interpreted by search engines as duplicate content.
  • Being part of the text messaging generation caused our mix ups in using lower and upper case letters when we type. It could look harmless for SEO, but search engines’ algorithm takes it seriously. If for example your website has a problem in mixing file names and other whatnots, then you really have to use canonical tags.
  • Internal site searches. When you ping pong from one page to another, the web automatically creates links that could be harmful for your SEO ranking. There are many content management systems now allowing multiple URLs. Such can be interpreted by search engines immediately as duplicate content.
  • Apart from the above mentioned, there are far more possible sources of duplicate content and reasons why we should learn how to use canonical tags. As a general rule, it is always best to be proactive in monitoring our site and reviewing links and URLs related to it.

Why are canonical tags vital in SEO ranking?


  • Duplicate content within and outside your website is a no-no. Each time you research about SEO, you will always find the phrase ‘duplicate content’. It is highly discouraged and extremely avoided by websites and e-commerce sites as it has an automatic negative effect on the ranking. Canonical tags will erase all traces of duplicate content in your website, and will improve your chances on the ranking you are aiming for your business.
  • Using HTTPs on your site will create duplicate content. Sometimes the usage of HTTPs are inevitable. It is possible that you have been utilizing a WordPress platform for so many years and have already established your brand there. You can use canonical tags to lessen the causes of duplicate content being tagged to your website.

How do we apply a canonical tag?

  • Canonicalization might be perceived as a hard or tricky task, but it could be simply done like this. Just follow this easy format:

Let us just use entrepreneur.com as an example.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.entrepreneur.com” />

  • You can just repeat the format in all the pages in your website so you are assured that it is completely protected from duplicate content that might be lurking there. You always have to take note that the URLs from internal site research, even Facebook visits, can be detrimental for your website’s ranking.
  • Thankfully, there are now many content management systems (CMS) that automatically do the job for you. You just have to tweak a little of their settings to have it set to enabled, and you will no longer have the problem of putting them on your own.
  • Before actually diving into the use of canonical tags and links, review your website if there really is a need for it. It could be that your website is already doing great, and the lack of information of using canonical tags can just dampen the results. Even then, canonical links can still help if you think it is the missing piece to your SEO puzzle.
  • If you are not using CMS, Google also helps in placing canonical tags, as they also hate duplicate content. They have launched the Google Webmaster Tools which provide an idea about the URL parameters you have to know in using canonical tags.
  • Beware of using multiple canonical links. It has to be noted that each of the pages must only have one canonical link specified in the head. If you put varying tags, search engines will probably experience confusion and just ignore the tags all together.

While canonical tags are not precisely the bread and butter of SEO ranking, there is no denying that they can help. Sure, there are no grave consequences when it comes to duplicate content, but they can absolutely harm your ranking on search engine pages. Duplicate content is like rust that can eat your business’ pillars if not taken seriously.

Take canonical tags as a piece of cake. Get to really understand how they work, as it can be a little overwhelming that a crash course like this would not make you fully grasp how it important it is. If you know for a fact that it is what your website needs to maximize its potential, then by all means, make use of it. There is no high price to pay, but more of much to gain for your business.

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