Canonical is the same meaning as preferred, it’s a part of search engine optimization because it gives a hint to crawler bots to choose the preferred URLs.
Its essentially used to provide the right information to search engines for how to choose the best copy of your URL. In other meaning, it gives the search engines a signal to determine which page should be delivered in their results.
What is Rel Canonical Tag?
rel=canonical is a part of meta data which is stored in meta tags that placed in the head of your HTML, its most often used to prevent duplicate content and reduce multiple URLs versions of your site.
Most of duplicate content issues happened because misconfiguration of your server or your theme create multiple urls for widgets or categories and here is comes the great role of rel=canonical to fix all these multiple unwanted urls.
<head> <link href="https://example.com/preferred-url/" rel="canonical" /> </head>
Why you Need Rel Canonical?
No one can rid of the site’s problems forever, sooner or later you will wake up to some issues generated from WordPress, plugin conflict, or even server failure.
Duplicate content is the ugliest problem i ever met because it hurt your SEO rank without any warning. So, you have to keep your eyes open for such problems.
Here is some important reasons for using rel canonical tag:
- Widgets or categories multiple urls
- Point index.html url to the main home page url
- Point default.asp / aspx url to the main home page url
- Site with dynamic URLs “https://www.example.com/page.html?parameter=1”
- Useful to solve www and non-www duplicate content because both point to the same page
Common Mistakes with Rel=canonical
1- rel=canonical to the first page of a paginated series
As we started before rel=canonical is used to point duplicate page to the original, master and preferred page.
But page 2, page3, etc are not duplicated pages and point them to your home page will result to de-index of these innocent pages.
2- Place rel=canonical in the <body>
rel=canonical is one of meta tags that should be placed in the head of your page , and place it in the body instead will result in HTML parsing issues
3- rel=Canonical is not replacement of 301 Redirects
The critical difference between both is: that a 301-redirect takes the visitor to the canonical URL, while a rel=canonical tag does not. Because rel=canonical is just a hint or signal to guide the crawler bots for which page should be taken as preferred.
As Matt Cutts has claimed that the search engine prefers the use of 301 redirects because Google’s spiders can choose to ignore a canonical link element if they feel it is more beneficial to do so.
Hint: here is more explanation about 5 common mistakes with rel=canonical usage.
How to Implement Rel Canonical Tag?
rel=canonical is a powerful tool in SEO optimization but you should use it carefully and wisely to prevent any mistakes that you may regret for it in the future.
Without going through many complications of codes and falling in many problems, wordpress seo plugin by yoast will take care of this dangerous tag. Just installed and you are done, there is no any options you should configure. It will work just perfectly.
rel=canonical Best Practices
- Don’t use rel=canonical when it should be 301 redirect.
- Don’t canonicalize paginated archive pages to homepage.
- Use absolute paths rather than relative paths with the rel=”canonical” link element.
- Don’t implement multiple rel=canonical tags on the same page because this will result in destruction.
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