The Complete Guide to Canonicalizing Pages


Struggling to handle duplicate content material in your web site? Canonical tags might be the answer you’re in search of. On this complete information, we’ll clarify what canonical tags are and find out how to use canonical tags to enhance your web site’s efficiency on Google in addition to different search engines like google. We’ll additionally discover totally different strategies for specifying the canonical URL and clarify how Google determines essentially the most applicable ones for every web page. Hold studying to discover ways to implement canonical tags to convey main search engine optimization advantages to your web site.

What’s a canonical tag in search engine optimization?

Let’s begin with the canonical tag definition.

A canonical tag is a technique used to establish the popular model of a web page amongst duplicate or very related pages on Google search outcomes. In different phrases, search engines like google depend on canonical tags to find out which model of a URL to prioritize. Canonical tags play a vital function in stopping duplicate content material points that will come up when the identical content material is accessible from a number of URLs.

To make sure correct indexing and visibility in search outcomes, entrepreneurs typically use canonical URLs. This particular model of the URL serves because the authoritative supply, minimizing the danger of duplicate content material points whereas consolidating rating alerts. 

What’s a canonical URL?

Now that you’ve got a transparent understanding of the canonical tag search engine optimization that means, you might need the next questions: what’s a canonical URL? How does it differ from the canonical tag? 

Right here’s the reply:

Google defines a canonical URL because the URL of a web page chosen (by Google) as essentially the most authoritative amongst a gaggle of duplicate pages. Merely put, Google acknowledges the canonical URL because the “grasp” model of all different pages displaying duplicate or related content material.

Understanding the canonical URL that means is essential for ensuring that your web site’s content material is appropriately listed by search engines like google. You’ll additionally have to realize it just like the again of your hand if you wish to keep away from duplicate content-related penalties.

How one can specify the canonical URL

When a web site incorporates a number of pages with equivalent or very related content material, search engines like google might wrestle to resolve which web page to show in SERPs. To deal with this drawback, web site homeowners can specify a canonical URL, indicating their most popular web page for show. 

There are a number of strategies for specifying the grasp web page, lots of that are described in additional element in Google documentation. Right here, we’ll undergo essentially the most generally used strategies for specifying the canonical URL of a webpage.

Essential! Canonical tags are strategies that Google can simply ignore.

Tags inside <head> of HTML

If you wish to specify the canonical URL on your web page, one frequent methodology is to incorporate a rel canonical tag like  <hyperlink rel=”canonical”> within the <head> part of its HTML code. This simple strategy is essentially the most broadly used and tells search engines like google which model of your internet web page must be listed and displayed when customers kind within the queries it targets. For instance, if two pages in your web site comprise equivalent content material however have totally different URLs, including this line of code can point out that it’s the most popular web page to show. Check out this canonical tag instance:


   <hyperlink rel="canonical" href="">


Canonical HTTP Response Header

For web sites that show dynamic pages primarily based on person enter or different variables, including a canonical URL within the HTTP response header is an efficient strategy. This methodology precisely directs search engine crawlers, guaranteeing that your required model of the webpage is listed. For instance, you possibly can embody this line within the HTTP header:

Hyperlink: <>; rel="canonical"

XML Sitemaps

One other technique to specify the canonical URL is by together with it in your web site’s XML sitemap. This lets you talk to search engines like google which model must be listed for customers’ queries.

Google claims that each one pages included in a sitemap.xml file are prompt as canonicals, which is usually a answer for giant web sites however is a weak sign for Google. 

How Google chooses the canonical URL

When deciding on the canonical URL, Google’s algorithm pays shut consideration to a number of key metrics. The next two are crucial:

1. Hyperlinks pointing to the web page: To guage a web page’s relevance and significance, Google examines any inner and exterior hyperlinks pointing to each pages (duplicates) and chooses the web page with extra hyperlinks and higher high quality.

2. Canonical setup (tags, Response Header, sitemap): When figuring out the dominant model of a web page, Google considers whether or not there are canonical tags embedded in its HTML code, rel=”canonical” HTTP header, amongst different hints, comparable to URLs listed on the sitemap.

Extra components that Google considers when selecting the canonical URL embody:

3. HTTPS pages. Google prioritizes HTTPS pages over HTTP pages, besides underneath the next conflict-creating situations:

  • An invalid SSL certificates is current on the safe web page.
  • There are insecure dependencies (apart from photos) included within the protected web page.
  • Customers are redirected to or by means of an unprotected webpage through its secured counterpart.
  • The safe webpage has a rel=”canonical”​ hyperlink pointing to its unsecured model.

4. Hreflang clusters. To make sure that the websites’ localization efforts are profitable, Google encourages utilizing URLs inside hreflang clusters for canonicalization.

5. Cell-friendliness. To make sure that the canonical web page is listed appropriately, embody a rel=”alternate” hyperlink component, which references the cellular model of the web page if it exists on a separate URL.

Google, as you may see, makes use of quite a lot of alerts to resolve which URL must be chosen because the canonical one. Usually, if a canonical tag is obtainable, it’ll use it, however not all the time. Google may sometimes select an alternate possibility if it believes that one other web page higher satisfies person preferences or provides extra correct data.

How one can discover out which web page Google considers canonical

Though the rel=”canonical” component within the HTML code of your pages lets Google know which model must be canonical, Google can ignore it and select non-canonical pages as an alternative. 

Don’t fear, although! There are a number of easy strategies to find out which web page Google considers canonical, together with:

  • Checking SERPs manually 
  • Utilizing Google Search Console 
  • Utilizing SE Rating’s Rank Tracker 

Let’s assessment them in additional element.

Checking SERPs manually

The primary and most simple means is to manually assessment the SERP it’s in. Start by coming into the specified key phrase or phrase. Search for two variants of your URL within the outcomes (canonical and non-canonical), and word which web page Google locations increased within the outcomes.

Utilizing Google Search Console

Alternatively, use Google Search Console’s Web page Indexing Report to establish the popular web page for search engines like google when you’ve verified possession of your web site in GSC.

It offers a listing of all listed and non-indexed web site pages, permitting you to establish any discrepancies with alternate canonical tags or duplicate content material missing user-selected canonicals. If you happen to see any pages with out user-selected canonicals, you may repair this by together with the tag in your webpages.

Page Indexing Report in GSC

The Efficiency report offers an summary of your web site’s efficiency in search, together with the variety of clicks and impressions on every web page. If you happen to discover that your non-canonical URLs are attracting consideration and receiving impressions throughout the latest time frame, it may point out that Google is disregarding your canonical tags. This case may even happen when your canonical tags are arrange appropriately. Typically, for instance, non-canonical pages obtain extra backlinks or inner hyperlinks with none clear cause.

On prime of that, Google Search Console’s URL Inspection device provides real-time updates concerning the indexing and crawling standing of any web page in your web site. With this function, you may simply establish and deal with points associated to indexing, canonicalization, or different issues regarding a selected URL.

URL Inspection Tool on GSC

Utilizing SE Rating’s Rank Tracker

With the assistance of SE Rating’s rank monitoring device, you may get data on the web page that Google is paying essentially the most consideration to. Test this by going to the Detailed report and hovering over the URL subsequent to your key phrase. If you happen to see a quantity there or if it’s purple, one thing is unsuitable and Google might not have listed the web page. 

Canonical URLs in Rank Tracker

To get an even bigger image perspective, export the outcomes into Excel and apply patterns like “=” to see if there are any non-canonical URLs there (for example, URLs with URM parameters). Then, look into it additional to seek out out why these URLs are getting listed. 

Why are canonical tags essential for search engine optimization?

Canonical tags can save your crawling price range and defend your web site in opposition to duplicate content material points. If you happen to don’t use canonical tags, search engines like google might waste invaluable assets by indexing a number of variations of the identical content material on totally different URLs. This may additionally end in web site homeowners being penalized for duplicate content material. To keep away from these points and optimize using your web site’s crawl price range, it’s usually beneficial to implement canonical tags wherever doable. By utilizing canonical tags to level out the popular or major model of your content material, you may be certain that search engines like google prioritize indexing your Most worthy pages. This optimization results in extra environment friendly use of crawling assets, boosting your rankings and visibility on search engine outcomes for max engagement with clients.

Implementing canonical tags additionally lets you defend in opposition to duplicate content material and cannibalization points. When you may have quite a few pages competing for related search queries, this confuses each customers and search engines like google, ultimately resulting in a lower in rankings and site visitors. 

To make sure correct indexing and increase search engine optimization, merge all duplicate content material right into a single canonical URL through the use of canonical tags. This can each enhance the person expertise on the location and improve your general search engine optimization technique, supplying you with an edge over opponents who usually are not using this method.

When ought to we use the canonical tag for search engine optimization functions?

Utilizing canonical tags maximizes web site efficiency and might help you in avoiding duplicate content material points that negatively influence search engine optimization. If you happen to’re a webmaster, following the suggestions offered on this part may help you index your content material in the correct means in order that it’s ranked excessive by search engines like google. This can end in improved on-line visibility and extra site visitors pushed to your web page.

Sorting choices

It’s essential to make the most of canonical tags when implementing sorting choices in your web site to specify the popular model of the content material. For instance, when you have a product web page that may be sorted by both worth or recognition, you will need to embody canonical tags that time to the unique, unaltered URL as the primary supply.

To higher perceive this idea, let’s take the laptop computer class on eBay for instance, which incorporates laptops for work and is optimized for this key phrase cluster. The canonical tag for this web page appears like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" 
href="" /> 

As you may see, the web page is referencing itself. 

The navigational options this web page provides embody: 

  • Finest match (time/worth/transport/distance)
  • View kind (gallery/listing)
caninical for the gallery view type

Let’s change the view kind. The merchandise ought to now be proven in a listing format, and the URL modifications to 

canonical for the list view type

Discover how the parameters seem on the finish of the URL. These parameters are used to carry out sorting choices and different operations. An countless variety of these pages may be generated relying on the vary of sorting choices. From a search engine’s perspective, every variation with a brand new parameter is a separate URL.

If pages with equivalent or very related content material find yourself within the index (and almost definitely with the identical <title>), they may compete with one another for rankings, resulting in key phrase cannibalization and decrease rankings.

This challenge may be prevented through the use of canonical tags, which let you point out the primary model of the doc that you simply need to seem within the SERP. Within the instance beneath, the sorting web page has the next canonical:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="" /> 

This web page factors to the primary model of the doc with out parameters.

Unoptimized filtering

When quite a lot of filtering parameters are utilized, on-line retailer web sites can have a number of unoptimized pages for his or her respective key phrase cluster.

After we discuss optimizing for key phrase clusters, we imply that the doc has:

  • a <title> optimized for search queries aside from the <title> of the web page the place the filter was utilized.
  • a singular and optimized H1 header.
  • merchandise filtered in line with a particular key phrase cluster.

It’s price noting that the HTML5 normal permits for any stage of heading, whereas the dialogue of H1 refers to a traditional scenario throughout the context of the HTML4 normal.

Fastidiously take into account that one touchdown web page equals one person intent. For instance, the Laptops & Netbooks class options filters that create separate pages for various person wants.

By deciding on the Workstation filter, we arrive at a separate web page, which we beforehand examined.

Nonetheless, let’s take into account a situation the place filters aren’t or can’t be optimized. Suppose we need to view merchandise from two separate manufacturers. On this case, there can be no level in optimizing the web page for such requests, since every model ought to have its personal web page. To deal with this, filtering outcomes may be “hidden” utilizing canonical tags.

Essential! Using canonical tags must be analyzed on a case-by-case foundation, bearing in mind the distinctive wants of every scenario.

Duplicate gadgets

In some widespread CMS’s, comparable to Shopify, a product might comprise the total path to the class by which it’s positioned. If you happen to add a product to a number of classes, it creates duplicated URLs that may negatively influence search engine indexing and rankings. Search engines like google and yahoo might interpret these URLs as distinct items of content material, inflicting a dilution of the web site’s general rating potential.

For instance, let’s assessment the next product URLs for an iPhone 12:


The third URL is the popular one, whereas the primary two ought to level to it as to the primary canonical doc.

Keep away from duplicating URLs every time doable. From an search engine optimization perspective, it’s more practical to hyperlink classes on to the primary model of the product versus utilizing canonical tags. This each prevents you from having redirects and optimizes search engine indexing.

UTM tags and monitoring parameters

When using UTM tags and monitoring parameters, it’s essential to remember that this could create URLs that search engines like google might misread as duplicate content material. To counter this, apply canonical tags to your most popular model of the content material, which mustn’t embody any UTM tags or monitoring parameters. By doing so, you may be certain that your web site is listed appropriately.

For instance, a URL like https://web page/  might have a model with parameters like https://web page/?fbclid=IwAR3cnDV4ERw24pQNVLTFlwKzchPDA1. An analogous hyperlink may also be generated within the case of a redirect from Fb. Canonical can be an excellent answer on this situation.

Specifying the primary model of the location

In case your web site is accessible by means of a number of variations, like HTTP and HTTPS, or with the “www” prefix included or not, you usually have to arrange a 301 redirect. This may help you in avoiding any content material duplication points and in ensuring that search engines like google precisely index and rank every web page in your web site. In some instances, nonetheless, you may need to use canonical tags to outline which model must be used.

The variations beneath, for instance, are of 4 totally different websites:


You need to use canonical to specify the primary web site model.

Canonical to main website version

For instance, if the primary model is https://web, then the remaining should comprise <hyperlink rel=”canonical” href=”https://web”>.

When selecting between the HTTP and HTTPS protocols, you need to all the time go for the latter. To study why HTTPS is preferable and find out how to transfer your web site to HTTPS with out shedding rankings and site visitors, learn this information. Additionally, when you’re having bother deciding between www and non-www, seek the advice of this text.

The canonicalization of cross-domain duplicates

If you’re dealing with duplicate content material points in your web site, use cross-domain canonical tags so as to consolidate that content material. 

Let’s say you may have two related, virtually indistinguishable web sites, and, with equivalent content material and listed URLs, www.instance/com/web page and www.instance/web/web page

Regardless that they’re so related, one web site will naturally outshine the opposite over time if not correctly monitored.

To maintain these pages on each domains, you could select your fundamental content material model after which incorporate a cross-domain canonical tag on the copy of your web page. Including this to page, for instance, will direct search engines like google to the popular and unique model at page, which can defend you from any duplicate content material points.

Pagination canonicalization

Selecting essentially the most appropriate strategy to pagination canonicalization is usually a sophisticated process, as opinions on the very best methodology differ vastly.

Choice 1: You’ll be able to take the normal route and apply self-referencing canonical tags on all pagination pages, which is what Google recommends. This ensures that every web page within the collection incorporates a canonical tag that directs again to itself, like within the instance beneath:

https://web page/2/ incorporates <hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://web page/2/" />.

This strategy is mostly thought-about protected as a result of it allows internet crawlers to succeed in all pages within the pagination set and appropriately index the content material. Moreover, this methodology helps to consolidate hyperlink fairness throughout all pages within the collection.

Choice 2: If you happen to’d desire to inhibit the indexation of paginated pages, it’s not beneficial to canonicalize them as a result of search engines like google might not reply to your directives. It’s higher to make use of <meta identify=“robots” content material=“noindex, observe” /> tag as an alternative. This can allow search engines like google to crawl and observe hyperlinks in your web site however forestall the indexing of any paginated sections.

Pagination canonicalization

Regardless of which answer you go along with, it’s essential to make sure that the paginated pages are linked correctly to their corresponding fundamental content material, and that the canonicalization is configured appropriately to keep away from any potential duplicate content material points.

301 redirect or rel=canonical

Duplicate content material is usually a actual headache for search engine optimization, however there are two easy options: 

  1. The 301 redirect 
  2. rel=canonical tag 

Each of those strategies help search engines like google in figuring out which model of your content material must be displayed on the prime of natural search outcomes, making it simpler to handle duplicate content material in your web site.

If you could transfer content material completely whereas retaining hyperlink fairness, the 301 redirect is your finest wager. When customers or search engine bots try and entry the previous URL, it routinely sends them to the brand new one, indicating that the unique web page is not legitimate. That is usually the go-to answer for addressing duplicate content material points.

Whereas a 301 redirect is normally your best option, there are instances the place it might not be possible or sensible. As an example, when you have a paid marketing campaign and use a UTM parameter to trace it, you will have each URLs as a result of they each serve totally different functions: one for natural efficiency and the opposite for paid marketing campaign monitoring. 

Luckily, you may nonetheless point out to search engines like google which model of the content material must be prioritized over others through the use of a rel=canonical tag. This HTML code is embedded in your web page header and factors to the unique supply of the content material, telling search engine crawlers that each one related variations must be handled as one.

Nonetheless, whereas it’s essential to notice {that a} rel=canonical tag may be helpful in eliminating duplicate content material, it doesn’t assure that search engines like google will prioritize the canonical model of your content material. Search engines like google and yahoo use various standards, such because the presence of exterior and inner hyperlinks and the relevance of the content material to person searches, to find out which web page ought to seem in SERPs. To make sure that the search engine doesn’t index your non-canonical URLs, use a noindex tag for these pages. This sends a stronger sign to look engine algorithms that these URLs shouldn’t be listed.

Frequent errors when including canonical tags

Errors can occur even to essentially the most skilled entrepreneurs and web site homeowners, and one space the place errors can negatively have an effect on search engine optimization efficiency is the addition of canonical tags. When a web site has a number of variations of the identical content material accessible by means of totally different URLs, failing to correctly implement a canonical tag to point the popular URL can result in the “Various web page with correct canonical tag” error. It might ultimately result in duplicate content material points and confusion for search engines like google, which can wrestle to find out which model of the content material to index and show in search outcomes. That is the explanation why most search engine optimization consultants say that you need to verify canonical URLs frequently and guarantee it matches the popular web page for indexing. Learn our information on web site audit to study the place to begin.

You need to use SE Rating’s Web site Audit device to verify all canonical errors and get actionable tips about find out how to repair them.


Test if the web site is utilizing the correct redirects, canonical tags, and robots.txt

Within the following part, we’ll delve into the commonest errors made with canonical tags and supply suggestions that can assist you forestall them from taking place.

Pointing to a URL that’s not crawlable or indexable

It’s essential to make sure that the chosen canonical URL is crawlable, which implies it shouldn’t be blocked within the robots.txt file or by the X-Robots-tag or <meta identify=“robots” content material=“noindex” />.

You’ll be able to verify if the web page is allowed to be scanned and listed in Google Search Console or through the use of SE Rating on your web site audits, which may present a breakdown of all pages and their tags. For a fast verify, use our free robots.txt checker to check in case your web page is open for crawling in your robots.txt file.

Crawled pages in SE Ranking's Website Audit

Canonizing various kinds of pages

One typical canonical tag mistake entails canonizing pages with various kinds of content material. As an example, you may mistakenly use a canonical tag on your homepage from one among your weblog posts or product pages. This may be complicated for search engines like google and adversely have an effect on your web site’s rankings. To keep away from this error, ensure that to make use of canonical tags just for equivalent or related content material on totally different pages.

Canonical chains

When typing a URL within the href attribute, ensure that the web page you’re pointing to doesn’t have a canonical tag pointing to both one other web page or the identical web page.

Let’s say, for instance, that the web page you need to canonicalize is https://web The web page you need to set as canonical is https://web It already incorporates the next canonical:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://web" />
Canonical chain

This use case for canonical is wrong as a result of it creates a canonical chain.

The final on this chain is the web page, https://web, which implies that it’ll possible be thought-about canonical by search engines like google. If you happen to don’t need to confuse search robots, point out just one canonical web page.

This implies, in accordance with our instance, that you could resolve which web page you need to set as canonical: https://web or https://web 

For the primary possibility, you could exchange canonical on the https://web web page in order that it factors to itself and canonicalizes https://web and https://web

Proper canonical usage

To go away the web page https://web as canonical, different related pages should hyperlink to it and the web page should additionally hyperlink to itself.

Correct canonical usage

Essential! Watch out when modifying canonical URLs. Discover out why sure values are getting used.

Pointing to a URL that returns a standing code aside from 200

It’s essential to ensure that the URL you’re designating as canonical returns a standing code of 200, not 404 or 301. If search engines like google don’t acknowledge your web site’s canonical tag resulting from one among these different codes being returned, it may result in duplicate content material points. To verify if the URL you’re canonizing features correctly and has a standing code of 200, you should utilize instruments like SE Rating to investigate it.

Pointing to a URL with an invalid protocol

One other frequent mistake many entrepreneurs make is incorrectly specifying the URL protocol. Utilizing HTTP as an alternative of HTTPS, for instance, can confuse search engine algorithms and result in a drop in web site rankings. If this occurs, and the primary model makes use of the HTTPS protocol, specify the HTTPS model of the web page within the href attribute.

Non-canonical pages within the sitemap

Yet one more mistake to be cautious of entails including non-canonical pages within the sitemap.xml. This may trigger search engines like google to disregard the web page altogether and index them incorrectly. To keep away from this drawback, ensure that solely fundamental web page variations seem within the sitemap. The sitemap file solely wants to incorporate the pages pointing to themselves with the assistance of canonical tags.

Inner hyperlinks to canonicalized URLs

It’s essential to make sure that your inner hyperlinks level to the primary model of the web page, which may strengthen your hyperlink fairness and assist search engines like google in crawling by means of your web site with none confusion.

Nonetheless, there could also be instances the place it’s important to select to hyperlink to a canonicalized model of a web page. Let’s say, for instance, that there are numerous variations of a web page, all belonging to the identical class and seen as genuine sources of data. Linking to one among them may assist your customers entry extra detailed content material or improve their person expertise.

When linking to a canonicalized web page, it’s important to make sure that the hyperlink is related and offers worth to guests. Moreover, you need to use the rel canonical tag to stop any hyperlink fairness from being handed on to the corresponding web page.

Hreflang tags and canonicalized URLs

One other mistake to keep away from is utilizing non-canonical URLs in your hreflang tags. Doing so might confuse search engines like google and end in your non-canonical URLs being listed and getting impressions in Google. Keep away from this error by guaranteeing that your hreflang tags solely level to canonical URLs. 

Furthermore, if you’re concentrating on totally different language audiences with hreflang components, it’s important to additionally designate a canonical web page in the identical language. If no canonical web page exists for that specific language, specify the very best substitute as an alternative. This step is essential to assist search engines like google perceive your content material and index every model of your web site for respective languages precisely.

Lastly, with regards to web site localization success, Google prefers URLs which can be a part of hreflang clusters. By using these strategic clusters, you may be certain that your web site content material is appropriately listed and tailor-made to the correct viewers, which results in higher search engine visibility and an optimum person expertise.

The underside line

Accurately utilizing canonical tags is key to search engine optimization as a result of it prevents duplicate pages and indexing points from taking place. If it’s set incorrectly, nonetheless, canonicalization might not convey the specified consequence and might even result in decrease rankings resulting from duplicate content material.

Comply with the very best practices described above, however all the time consider every scenario individually.

Now it’s your flip! Inform us the way you resolve when to make use of a canonical tag in your internet pages. What’s your expertise with implementing canonical tags in your web site? Please share your ideas and insights within the feedback part beneath.


Scroll to Top