Canonical Tags Beginners Guide

Katherine Zhu

In the realm of SEO and website management, canonical tags play a critical role in guiding search engines to your preferred webpage versions.

When you have multiple pages with similar or identical content, it's your responsibility to tell search engines which version is the 'master' or original.

This is where a canonical tag comes into play – it's a marker used to identify the primary version of a webpage to avoid issues like duplicated content in search results.

Including a canonical tag is straightforward: it's a piece of HTML that you add in the header of a webpage.

By implementing this tag, you're able to consolidate link equity to a single URL, which is particularly useful when you have multiple URLs with similar content.

This ensures that the search engines index and rank the webpage you designate as the canonical version. It's a powerful tool that can enhance your SEO strategy when used correctly.

Getting Started with Canonical Tags

In managing your website’s SEO, understanding and implementing canonical tags is crucial to ensure that search engines identify the correct version of content and to consolidate ranking signals.

Understanding Canonical Tags

A canonical tag, also known as the rel="canonical" link, is a segment of HTML code that you place in the <head> part of your web page. Its purpose is to tell search engines like Google which version of a URL you want to appear in search results when you have multiple pages with identical or very similar content. This is vital as search engines prioritise unique content and can penalise websites for having duplicate content.

Here's a basic example of what the canonical tag looks like in HTML:

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

Importance for SEO

Canonical tags are significant for your website's search engine optimisation (SEO) for several reasons:

  • Preventing Duplicate Content: They help prevent issues related to duplicate content, ensuring that the search engines know which pages to index.
  • Consolidating Ranking Signals: Search engines combine the ranking signals of the duplicated or similar pages to the URL specified by the canonical tag, potentially improving your page's position in search results.
  • Control over URL Indexing: You can guide search engines to index the HTTPS version of your site rather than the HTTP, which is important because HTTPS is a ranking signal thanks to its security features.

Remember, for the canonical tag to work effectively, it must be used correctly. Only point to the most relevant and authoritative version of your content. Misuse can lead to confusion for search engines and could harm your site's visibility in search results.

Implementing and Optimising Canonical Tags

To effectively implement and optimise canonical tags, you'll need to adhere to certain best practices while avoiding common errors. This ensures accurate indexing and prevents search engine confusion.

Best Practices for Implementation

  • Specify the Preferred URL: Define the canonical URL — the version of the page you wish to be indexed — using the <link rel="canonical" href=""/> HTML tag in the <head> section of your webpage.
  • Use Absolute URLs: Always use the absolute URL ( rather than a relative URL (/page) to avoid ambiguity.
  • Consistency Across Elements: The canonical URL should be consistent in all elements including sitemaps, content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, and the HTTP header used during crawling.
  • Implement via CMS Plugins: If you’re using WordPress, apply canonical tags through SEO plugins like Yoast SEO, which simplifies the process.
  • Integration with 301 Redirects: Use 301 redirects for permanently moved pages, and ensure the canonical tag reflects the new URL.
  • Audit for Correctness: Regularly audit your website to ensure your canonical tags are correctly implemented and that the preferred versions of your pages are being indexed.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Inconsistent Tagging Across Versions: Don’t have multiple versions of a URL each claiming to be canonical. Only one version should have the canonical tag.
  • Canonicalising to Inappropriate URLs: Never set a canonical tag to an irrelevant or non-indexable page.
  • Overlooking Tag Presence in Duplication: Ensure each version of a page that should not be indexed has a canonical tag pointing to the preferred URL.
  • Disregarding Tag Updates After Site Changes: Update your canonical tags immediately if your site structure changes, to facilitate accurate indexing.

Remember to check your work through an audit to confirm that your implementation aligns with these guidelines and that search engines are respecting your specified canonical URLs.

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The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Katherine Zhu

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