Canonical Tag

What Is A Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag, known as a “rel=canonical” link, is an HTML element that helps website owners prevent duplicate content issues.

The canonical tag tells search engines which is the master version of the webpage.

why you should use canonical tags

Let me explain:

“Canonical” really just means “preferred” in SEO terms.

That means when you add a canonical tag to a page on your website, you are simply telling Google this is the preferred URL that we would like you to index and rank.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you have two pages on your website with similar content:


The only difference between these two pages is the www. in the first URL.

Other than that, they would be completely identical including the content on the page itself.

Two identical pages could trigger a duplicate content issue.

Google won’t know which page’s main version they should index and rank.

This could cause both pages to NOT rank well, or Google could choose the wrong version.

That’s where canonical tags come in.

The tag simply tells search engines which version is the main one you want to be indexed.

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Why Are Canonical Tags Important?

Canonical tags are important because they help search engines determine which pages on your site have the original content and which are duplicates.

The tag essentially tells search engines like Google which page they should index and which ones they should ignore.

This will establish the proper page in terms of page authority and ensure the original content ranks in the SERPs.

But that’s not all…

Canonical tags are important because they help:

  1. Avoid Duplicate Content: Canonical tags tell search engines which URL is the main version of a page.
  2. Increase Authority: They increase page authority by merging the internal and external link profiles from multiple URLs into one preferred URL.
  3. Better User Experience: Ensures users and search engines consistently reach the right page version.
  4. Optimise Crawl Budget: Search engines can focus on crawling only important pages rather than crawling duplicates.
  5. Identifies Original Content: Indicates the original content source when it’s published across different sites (or stolen).
  6. Fix Multiple URL Issues: Fixes issues caused by multiple URL variations.

The bottom line is that canonical tags are essential for good SEO. They offer a ton of benefits that will help get more visibility in the search results.

Canonical Tag Best Practices

Follow these canonical tag best practices:

1. Indicate The Preferred URL Version

Clearly tell Google the preferred URL version of your site so that the Google algorithm always indexes the correct version.

Your website has at least four versions:

  1. HTTP version:
  2. HTTPS version:
  3. WWW version: or
  4. Non-WWW version: or

The last thing you want is Google crawling and indexing multiple versions of your website.

Choose your preferred URL structure and use canonical tags to indicate it to search engines.

2. Use Absolute URLs

Always use absolute URLs in your canonical tags to ensure search engines understand the correct URL.

URLs are made up of three core parts:

  1. Protocol: HTTPS
  2. Domain:
  3. Page: /page-content

The URLs and are exactly the same.

They would also display the same content.

The random numbers and letters after the ? on then on the end are simply just a tracking code.

The problem is that without a canonical tag, Google might get confused about which is the correct URL.

By using absolute URLs in your canonical tag, you’ll help search engines understand your site’s URL structure.

That means they will always index the correct URL and avoid any issues.

3. Ensure Consistency

The URL in the canonical tag should match the URL version you want indexed.

Maintain consistency in the protocol, hostname and path.

For example, don’t add a canonical tag to one version of your site for a page, then change it to a different version.

Keep it consistent.

4. Use The Same Tag Across Domains

You need to tell Google which domain to rank if you have two different websites and publish the same content across both domains.

Use canonical tags to point to the correct domain.

This will stop cross-domain duplicate content issues and focus the ranking power on the right domain’s content.

5. Audit Your Site Regularly

Canonical issues can cause huge problems for your SEO.

Ensure you regularly audit your website and look for any duplicate content issues. Get on top of it from the start to prevent major issues in the future.

How To Add A Canonical Tag

To add a canonical tag to individual pages, you need to add the “rel=canonical” link in the HTML version of each page.

You can either do this manually or use a plugin like RankMath.

I’ll show you how to do both:

Manually Add A Canonical Tag

Add the rel= “canonical” tag to your page’s <head> section.

The canonical tag should look something like this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

You will either need to edit the HTML page using your CMS or access your website’s server.

Use RankMath To Add Canoncial Tags

The easiest way to add a canonical tag is by using a plugin like RankMath.

It takes care of the technical issues for you.

Install RankMath and head to the post/page you want to add the tag.

Find the RankMath widget, click on “Advanced” and add your Canonical URL.

canonical tag rank math

RankMath will add the canonical tag to the correct section of your page for you. It’s as simple as that!

Need more help with canonical tags?

Check out our complete canonicalization tutorial to learn more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, canonical tags are necessary for SEO. They help search engines understand which version of a page to index and rank in the search results. Canonical tags also stop duplicate content issues, especially on ecommerce sites.
A canonical URL is the URL of the page that search engines consider to be the best version of that webpage. It's essentially the preferred version of a webpage that you want search engines to index and rank in the search results.
Yes, it's considered a best practice for every page on your site to have a canonical tag. It will help reinforce the preferred URL for indexing and ranking to search engines.

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