What Is a Canonical Tag and How It is Important in SEO?

For website owners, getting ranked high on Google and other search engines is necessary for the growth of the website. However, not everyone has the knowledge to develop and grow their sites. Using a canonical tag, is one of the most effective and efficient ways of avoiding duplicate content issues and gaining traffic to your website. Canonical tags comes in handy whenever you want to optimize the search engine results on your site.

Basically, a canonical tag is a Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) or URL that appears whenever a user searches for your content. In other words, canonical tags are unique codes that allows search engines such as Google to determine the main source of the content being searched and to separate it from pages with similar information.

Canonical tags which are attributed as (rel=canonical) are suitable for SEO because they allow Google to determine which is the main part or version of your content. Also, they show the search engines the page that you want to appear on the search engine results; this improves the ranking on your website and attracts more traffic.

When creating a canonical tag or URL, it is important to ensure that they remain consistent in all your pages. For instance, you can decide that your URL will ends with double forward slash or not.

Notably, using canonical tags will allow you to tell the search engines such as Google the HTLMs and URLs that you want them to catalogue or index. In this paper, we are going to look at how canonical tags look like and some of their benefits in SEO.

What a Canonical Tag Looks Like

If you don’t have an idea of how a canonical URL looks like, here is a good illustration;

<link rel=”canonical” href= “https://mywebsite.com”>

If you have other articles within your main page, then you can allow your readers to access them through;

https://mywebsite.com/related-articles

You can have as many URLs as possible that lead your audience to content of similar nature.

If you have several URLs that have the same content, the using a canonical tag can be an effective way of showing the search engines the main version of the HTML to index. For example, if you want to put “https://mywebsite.com/related-articles” as the main URL, then we will add a canonical tag. <link rel=”canonical” href=https://mywebsite.com/related-articles/>.

How and When To Use a Canonical Tag

Before we discuss the benefits of canonical tags, let us see when and how these tags can be used.

  1. Use canonical tags when have an online store that offers similar products and services but with a small difference. By using canonical tags, Google and other search engines will be able to differentiate the products and services that you are offering depending on the searches of your target audience.
  2. You can use canonical URLs when you have matching topics of information if your site. Duplicate content affects your chances of ranking high on Google and other search engines. Therefore, using canonical tags will enable the search engines to select and index the content that you have selected.
  3. Use canonical tags when creating additional information for a new URL code; this allows the newly added content to be visible and accessible on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). By doing this, you will be creating URL boundaries for your content.

The importance of Canonical Tags in SEO

Well, here are some of the benefits of canonical URLs;

  • prevents Googlebot from crawling identical pages

Canonical tags allows Googlebot to crawl through your new and freshly updated pages. They also prevent the Googlebot from access all the duplicated content on your website. The main essence of this is to ensure that the new and unique content is always presented to your audience before the duplicated content.

But then again, if you are running a big site, it can be hectic to prevent Googlebot from accessing the duplicate pages.

  • Makes it easier to track the performance matrix of individual pages

When you have several URLs on your website, it can be hectic to monitor the performance of each page. However, if you add canonical tags to all the pages available on your site, you will be able to see how each page id performing on a regular basis.

  • Helps to specify the URL/HTML that you want to be displayed on SERPs

Canonical tags are crucial for any website owner because they show the search engines the page or content that you want to be displayed on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). However, if you have several duplicate content, it will be challenging for the search engines to determine which page or content to display to your audience.

Duplicate content might cause your audience to miss out on some important content that you had lined up for them.

  • Canonical tags combine links for similar content and control any edited content

Canonical tags allows search engines to combine information of a HTML/URL into a commanding URL. The authoritative URL is then used for ranking and indexing.

  • Tells the search engines which is the main page and which pages are duplicates

Most of the times, websites contain pages that have similar information but with different URLs/HTML. However, Google and other search engines has to select one page that will be used for indexing and ranking.

Therefore, using canonical tags will help the Google and other search engines to identify the main page and use it on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and for ranking.

Final Verdict

As discussed throughout the article, canonical tags are used as the main URL to differentiate several identical pages. The canonical tags are beneficial to any website because they improve traffic flow, support and improve your SEO, and enhance your ranking on the search engines.

Therefore, it is crucial to know how and when to use the canonical tags when creating content for your website; this allows you to avoid duplication of content which may result to poor ranking on Google and other search engines.

References

Bhattacharya. J. (2021). Canonical URLs: Why They Are Important & How to Use Them. Retrieved from: https://www.seoptimer.com/blog/canonical-url/

Pirouz. T. (2022). Why Canonical Tags are Essential for SEO. Retrieved from: https://www.deepcrawl.com/blog/best-practice/why-canonical-tags-are-essential/

Wareing. P. (2022). What is a canonical tag (and how to use it)? Retrieved from: https://mangools.com/blog/canonical-tag/

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