If you have been reading about SEO for a while, you will probably hear something about some Canonical res labels, right? Surely you will be aware of how important they are to not duplicate the content within our site or that of others.
Most likely, you have read that if you duplicate the content, the Google algorithm will fall on your page in the form of a panda or a penguin or a hummingbird, right?
Well, calm down. The truth is that unless your entire web or all the products on your website are copied ‘unrelentingly’ from other websites or from the descriptions of your provider, you should not think that you are in a serious danger.
Depending on the niche in which you position your website, Google will not sink your website because you have a duplicate page in error. In fact, it will not even penalise your blog or website, but that if you must know that it can directly influence how a website is positioned in Google.
Most likely, neither page will position itself as you would like to be warned with a message in search console that duplicate content has been found on your website which you should delete as soon as possible.
In reality, the attack of the search engine, and more specifically of Panda, went (and continues) focused, among other things, to combat content of poor quality that was generally massively copied from other web pages.
What is rel Canonical URL?
In anticipation of all the problems which are arising from duplicate content, search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN created the html <link rel canonical> tag in 2009, in case you have to repeat or copy content from other pages, the webmaster could define what was the original or preferred URL.
Thus the search engines instructed webmaster to use canonical rel to avoid duplicate content and gave a turn in the pursuit of all those junk pages that populated the internet in the pre-panda era.
It was one more way to get more clues when hunting them and remove them from their search results.
The html structure of canonical tags is very simple:
<Link rel = “canonical” href = “http://www.alltop9.com”>
- Link is the html tag that executes the function of this.
- Rel=“canonical” is the html attribute that we assign to the URL that we are going to set as preferred
- href=“http://www.alltop9.com” is the URL that we have chosen as the principle and the one we want the search engines to take into account to display in their search results.
In which cases you need to use a Canonical URL?
In fact, there are many cases in which canonicalize URLs, but in this article, I will focus on a couple of fairly common scenarios that you may need to do.
Let’s say you have an online camera store, whether it is in WordPress, Woocommerce or any other platform.
And you have a camera in different colours.
As you intent to do SEO and position it, you develop a very good product page, with a lot of text, a video, etc., which you can hardly repeat for five different colours. So, this is where the million dollar question comes from:
Should we copy the same page for each of the colours of your camera?
The answer is very easy. Whenever you define the canonical URL, yes, you can duplicate it.
If you have a page for red, white, yellow and black; But, you decide to position the red because it is the one that sells the most or is the one that is most sought, then both the white camera page, the yellow and the black camera would be the one that should carry the label rel canonical like this:
<link rel =“canonical” href=“http://alltop9.com/camera-red”>
Also in e-commerce, it is common that if you do not have well-defined URL writing, or without proper use of the meta robots tag allows you to index pages that are generated with multiple labels without having to do so, duplicate pages with different parameters in the URL that should not be indexed.
A good solution, in this case, is to tell Google from search console that parameter of your URLs should not be taken into account to index. But, be careful with that because you could mess it up fat if you do not do it right.
Finally, let us say for whatever reason you have written an article in an authoritative blog and as it is something that does not happen very often, you would like to share it with the audience of your SEO blog.
Let’s say instead of copying the whole article, you write a related article and decide to do a little review in which you copy a good paragraph of text as an appointment. This could already be considered as duplicate content as such.
In fact, if your guest post is an article that positions for certain keywords, and you directly copy a piece of that content, Google may not know what the original and compromise the two.
Therefore, it is advisable that since you are only interested in doing a review of that article for your readers, include a canonical label on your page to avoid possible scares telling Google that what you are doing is “quote” a source.
Is a canonical rel tag the same as a 301 redirect?
You may think that the two serve the same, but no, they have nothing to do.
In essence, the canonical attribute is very similar from an SEO point of view because it tells the search engines that several pages should be considered as one, but without redirecting visitors.
- The canonical rel, as we have seen, serves to define which of several identical pages is the original. So both search engines and users can see the two duplicate pages.
- The difference is that the search engines will know that one of them is telling them which is the original and which should, therefore, be taken into account in the rankings, while visitors will notice absolutely nothing.
- Instead, a 301 redirect is a way of telling the search engine that a page has ceased to exist and all links and visits that arrive at the page must be redirected (that is why it is called a redirect) to the new URL.
With the difference that the user at no time gets to see the redirected page if not directly to see the new page.
Here is an official google clarification on using rel=“canonical” instead of a 301 redirect. Watch the video here.
Going back o the online Camera store, here are a couple of examples so you can see the difference:
- On the one hand, we have the previous example of a page with the same content for each of the pages of the cameras. In which if you remember we said that of the four pages for the four colours that we had, the red one was the main one.
In this case, the URL of the red camera page is canonical and must go to the <head> of each of the other three.
- On the other hand, imagine that for a time in addition to the previous four pages, we had an additional one for a purple camera, and seeing that it was not sold we decided to remove it from our online store. In this case, we would use a redirect 301 to the URL of the red camera so that all the visits that arrived went directly to her.
Otherwise, if you directly delete the page, it would generate a 404 error code when the page was not found, and that would not be the most advisable.
How to add Canonical rel tag in my website or blog?
The canonical tag is an html tag always goes in the HEAD of the page, that is between the < head > < / head> tags. So you should always go in that part of the html code of your website.
But what if you have the web with many pages? Well, to this day, with a large amount of CMS out there, these tasks are quite automated.
If you are a WordPress user, I imagine you will know the SEO by Yoast plugin. With this fantastic plugin add canonical rel on WordPress. This is the simplest thing in the world.
As much as when creating a new page or an entry, you just have to go to the custom settings part and write what would be the URL that you want to select as canonical.
This is all about the Canonical URLs, its use in our website or blog and differences between Canonical URL and 301 redirection. I hope this article will help you to clear all your queries. If you still have any doubts regarding Canonical URLs or placing them in any platforms, let us know in the below comments.
Which platform do you use for your Website/Blog?