When it comes to on-page SEO, the canonical link is an often underused tool for taking care of duplicate content errors. Canonical links also help improve page page authority to rank higher in search results. Of the many ways for websites to handle duplicate content, syndication, and navigational errors, the canonical link is a simple yet effective solution.
In this article, we will go over what a canonical link is, how canonical links work, and the many SEO benefits that come with using them.
What Is A Canonical Link
A canonical link, also referred to as a canonical tag or rel=”canonical”, is an HTML element used in web development and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It is used to address the issue of duplicate content on the internet. Its main purpose is to inform search engines about the preferred or authoritative version of a web page when multiple copies of the same content exist on different URLs.
In essence, a canonical link serves as a signal to search engines, indicating which version of a page should be treated as the primary source for indexing. This helps prevent the dilution of ranking signals and ensures that search engines understand the intended hierarchy of content.
How Do Canonical Links Work
Before implementing canonical links, it’s essential to identify instances of duplicate or near-duplicate content on your website. This could include identical content accessible through different URLs, parameter variations, printer-friendly pages, or content syndication.
Among the duplicate or similar pages, determine which version is the preferred or canonical version. This decision should be based on factors like content quality, relevance, page authority, backlinks, and the overall purpose of the page.
Once you’ve identified the preferred version, add a canonical tag to the head section of the duplicate pages. This tag specifies the canonical link, telling search engines which page is more important and should be indexed.
How Do Search Engines Treat Canonical Links
When search engine spiders encounter a canonical tag, they consider the specified canonical link as the authoritative version for indexing. The search engine then attributes ranking signals, such as backlinks and content relevance, to the canonical version. You can think of this as the canonical tag helping to pass on any link juice it has to the canonical link page.
Search engines use canonical link information to determine how to rank the content in search results. While variations of the same content might still be indexed, the canonical version is given priority in rankings. This reduces the risk of duplicate content negatively impacting search performance.
More Benefits Of Canonical Links
One of the key benefits of canonical links is that they consolidate the link equity (backlink authority) earned by different versions of the same content. Instead of having multiple versions competing for link juice, the canonical link channels the authority to the preferred version, potentially boosting its search rankings. When multiple versions of the same content exist, ranking signals such as backlinks and user engagement can be scattered across these variations. Canonical links consolidate these signals onto the preferred version, potentially boosting its search engine rankings and allowing that page to rank higher in search results.
Canonical links can also be used to manage dynamic content, such as product filters or sorting options, by indicating the canonical URL for the unfiltered or default view. This is great for websites that use a lot of dynamic content
In addition, another benefit of canonical links is when your content is syndicated or republished on external websites. By including a canonical tag pointing back to the original source, you can ensure that your website receives credit for the content and any associated SEO benefits. This is a great way to quickly increase page authority.
Lastly, Canonical links can be used to specify the preferred version when you have multiple renditions of a page, such as printer-friendly or mobile versions.
Want To Learn More About Canonical Links And How They Affect Search Engine Rankings?
By properly using canonical links you too can reap the many benefits that come with them. From passing link authority, priority ranking in search engines, and taking care of duplicate content, canonical links are a great SEO tactic to implement on any website.
If you want to learn more about how you can use canonical links in your SEO strategy check out the rest of our blog.