Canonical Tags for SEO, Their Uses and Implementation?

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Canonical Tags for SEO, Their Uses and Implementation?

In SEO you may have heard about canonical tags, but what exactly are canonical tags? What do they help us achieve? When should we use them and how?

In the article below, we help clear things up for you and give examples of how canonical tags are used.

What are the canonical tags?

A canonical tag is the key to revealing to different search engines the specific and exact URL of a page that should be indexed. Canonical tags are used to resolve problems caused by the duplicate content on multiple URLs for single page content. In short, canonical tags tells crawlers / bots which is the preferred or master version of the page that should be indexed and displayed in the search results.

Duplicate pages are one of the main problems that can be resolved with canonical tags. It may be the cause of lowering the quality of the page content. Due to duplicate URLs, the following issues may arise:

  1. Pagination issues, where a page has been divided into discrete pages, but Google sees the content on these discrete pages as duplicate
  2. Due to the wrong selection of the URL the page quality may be low
  3. Important page content may be missed out due to the wrong selection of a URL by a search engine

Example

There are different URLs representing the same page but for a crawler, these are all different. e.g

http://www.zoo.com/asssignment/

http://zoo.com/assignment/

https://ww.zoo.com/assignment/

https://zoo.com/assignment/

These four URLs are for the same page, but crawler considers all of these as different. Suppose the exact and real URL you want to rank for is https://www.zoo.com/asignment/ but Google ranks the http://zoo.com/assignment/ , this is not good since the page ranking is unsecure. You would have to add a canonical tag to the non https version as follows;

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

When Google crawls the http://zoo.com/assignment/ page, it will pick up the canonical tag and will use https://www.zoo.com/asignment/ as the preferred version of the page. If you have different URLs, Google will consider only one URL as the main URL of your page. The duplicate one may be identical to the real one.

Pagination:

Pagination is another issue that can be resolved with canonical tags to help Google. Pagination, also known as paging, refers to a page that has been separated/split into many pages with numbers representing the next page.

We will need to tell Google that this is content for one page that has been split into many different pages. To avoid causing duplication, we use rel=“next” and rel=“prev” canonicals. Here’s how we would use a rel=“next” and rel=“prev” canonicals;

Page 1: Would contain a canonical tag pointing to page 2

<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.page2.co.za” />

Page 2: Has a canonical pointing back to page 1 and another one that points to page 3

<link rel=”prev” href=”http://www.page1.co.za” />

<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.page3.co.za” />

Page 3: Has a canonical pointing to page 2 and another one pointing to page 4

<link rel=”prev” href=”http://www.page2.co.za” />

<link rel=”next” href=”http://www.page3.co.za” />

On the last page (Page 15 for example): Has a canonical pointing back to the second last page

<link rel=”prev” href=”http://www.page14.co.za” />

Best practices for Canonical tags?

Following are some important ways to implement a URL.

  1. Always use absolute URLs of your page e.g. in the above example https://www.zoo.com/asignment/ is your exact URL.
  2. Always use the URL in the lowercase.
  3. Always use the correct domain version of your URL. In the above examples, https is the domain version. So, use this as the canonical URL.
  4. Use only one URL for one page. Do not use more than one URL for a single page.
  5. The setting of implementation of URL in WordPress: Install the Yoast plugin in your WordPress. Click the settings option, then click all post, goes to advanced button and click the edits. The canonical URL bar will be shown, write your canonical tag here. You can use this process similarly in case of Shopify too.

In Summary:

Canonical tags are very important for the pages on your website, as they help eliminate duplicate content issues on your site. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what canonical tags are and how they are used for both duplicate content and pagination issues. If you are still having a hard time understanding canonicals, let Algorithm Agency assist in implementing canonical tags for your website.


Author : Ntokozo Dlamini