Canonical URL Full Guide (2024)

Canonical URL Full Guide (2024):A Canonical URL is a concept used for websites and blogs to deal with problems related to duplicate URLs and content. It helps manage issues that arise when there are identical URLs pointing to the same or similar content on a website. In this discussion, we’ll explore various aspects of Canonical URLs, covering their meaning, how to check for duplicates, the problems associated with duplicate URLs, content management, SEO implications, importance, and the use of tags.

If you’re a blogger with a sizable website, you might have faced the challenge of dealing with duplicate URLs. As your site grows, the likelihood of having duplicate URLs increases, leading to complications with duplicate content. Canonical URLs provide a solution to this problem. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to address and resolve this issue if you ever come across it. Make sure to read the article thoroughly to gain a comprehensive understanding of Canonical URLs.

Canonical URL Full Guide (2024)
Canonical URL Full Guide (2024) 3

What is a Canonical URL:Canonical URL Full Guide (2024)

As your website expands, numerous pages start to resemble each other, making it difficult to avoid duplicate content issues. When two pages with identical content have already gained rankings for a specific keyword, search engines face difficulty deciding which one to prioritize for sending traffic. To tackle this problem, you can designate a preferred URL, and this is known as the Canonical URL.

How Google Indetifies Canonical URL

When a page on your website is reachable through various URLs or when identical information appears on different pages, Google identifies it as a duplicate version of a single page. For instance, a page might have distinct versions for mobile and desktop users. In such scenarios, Google will select one URL as the Canonical URL to crawl, considering the others as duplicates with a minimal crawl.

It’s advisable to define the Canonical URL yourself rather than leaving it to Google’s determination. By establishing the Canonical URL, you gain more control over the process and ensure that Google recognizes the accurate Canonical URL. This approach helps avoid the risk of Google mistakenly choosing an incorrect URL as the Canonical version.

Same data and multiple URLs

The Canonical URL serves as a technical solution to address the issue of duplicate content. For instance, if a post is assigned to two categories, resulting in two associated URLs like this:

  • https://abcd.com/yellow-shirt/yellow-and-red-shirt/
  • https://abcd.com/red-shirt/yellow-and-red-shirt/

In such scenarios, a Canonical URL can be employed to specify which URL is considered the canonical or primary one. This clarification helps both users and search engines understand that these two URLs are intended to display the same content, and users can access either.

To declare one of these URLs as the canonical version, you would use a <link> tag in the HTML head section, like this:

<head>
  <link rel="canonical" href="https://abcd.com/yellow-shirt/yellow-and-red-shirt/" />
</head>

This indicates to both users and search engines that the specified page is the primary or canonical page, and the other URL should be treated as having duplicate content. This practice ensures that when someone conducts a search, traffic is directed to the correct URL, preventing issues related to duplicate content.

In cases where both URLs pertain to the same product, you can designate one URL as the Canonical URL and communicate this information to search engines such as Google. This helps determine which URL should be displayed in search results.

Canonical URLs assist in guiding search engines to the original version of an article. For example, if you’ve written a post for someone else that has been published on their website, and you also wish to publish the same article on your website, you can designate it as the original post using Canonical tags.

How to identify Canonical URL in your website

Identifying the canonical URL on a website can be done through various methods. Here are some common approaches:

  1. View Page Source:
  • Right-click on the webpage and select “View Page Source” or use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+U or Command+Option+U).
  • Look for the <link> tag with the attribute rel="canonical". This tag specifies the canonical URL of the current page.
   <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/canonical-url" />
  1. Inspect Element (Developer Tools):
  • Right-click on the webpage and select “Inspect” or use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+I or Command+Option+I) to open the browser’s Developer Tools.
  • Navigate to the “Elements” tab and search for the <link> tag with rel="canonical".
  1. HTTP Header Check:
  • You can also check the HTTP headers of a webpage to find the canonical URL.
  • Use online tools or browser extensions that provide details about HTTP headers.
  1. Check in Robots.txt:
  • To access a website’s robots.txt file, add “/robots.txt” to the domain in your browser’s address bar (for example, https://www.example.com/robots.txt).
  • Examine the file for directives related to canonical URLs.
   Sitemap: https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml
   Canonical: https://www.example.com/canonical-url
  1. CMS or SEO Plugins:
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress often use plugins that allow easy management of canonical URLs.
  • Check the settings of your CMS or SEO plugin to identify or set the canonical URL.
  1. Check-in Google Search Console:
  • If you have access to Google Search Console for your website, you can locate information about canonicalization using the “URL Inspection” tool. It’s important to note that the canonical URL serves as a directive to search engines, aiding them in recognizing the preferred version of a page when multiple versions are present. To prevent problems associated with duplicate content, make sure that the canonical tag is accurately implemented on each page.

When you can redirect a URL and when you can use canonicalization

Redirecting a URL is done when you want to permanently guide traffic from one URL to another, usually because of changes in content or site structure. This is beneficial when you intend for both users and search engines to access the new URL rather than the old one.

On the other hand, canonicalization comes into play when you have multiple URLs containing similar or identical content, and you want to designate a preferred or canonical version. This practice assists search engines in recognizing which version of the content is the primary one, thus averting problems associated with duplicate content.

In summary:

  • Redirect a URL when you want to send traffic from an old URL to a new one permanently.
  • Use canonicalization when you have multiple similar URLs and want to specify the preferred version to avoid duplicate content problems.

Keep in mind that Canonical URLs play a crucial role in SEO, and having a good understanding of how to use them effectively can contribute to a more optimized and user-friendly website.

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