A Newbie’s Information to Canonical Tags

Understanding canonical URLs is important in web optimization. 

Find out how you need to use canonical tags (and different canonicalization strategies) to affect canonical URLs. And enhance your web site’s efficiency on Google.

Let’s dive in.

What Is a Canonical URL?

A canonical URL is the URL for the “major” model of a duplicated web page, as decided by search engines like google like Google.

For instance:

  • Canonical URL: https://instance.com/weblog/
  • Alternate URL: https://instance.com/weblog/?web page=1

Notice: The canonical web page can be referred to as the “principal,” “main,” or “consultant” model.

Google dislikes duplicate pages. As a result of it doesn’t wish to serve repeat search outcomes. Or waste sources on pages that supply no distinctive worth.

So, when Google finds duplicate (or near-identical) pages on an internet site, it selects a canonical URL to symbolize all of them. Then prioritizes this web page throughout indexing and rating. 

Google doesn’t at all times make the choice you need. 

Nevertheless, you possibly can affect canonicalization by utilizing canonical tags. And some other methods.

What Is a Canonical Tag?

Canonical tags, also called canonical hyperlinks or rel=”canonical” tags, can help you affect canonicalization. 

Google considers your specified rel=”canonical” tags when selecting canonical URLs (however doesn’t depend on them utterly).

Discovered within the <head> part of a webpage’s HTML supply code, a canonical tag appears like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/" />

an image highlighting "alternate URL" and "Canonical Tag"

Sometimes, canonical tags level from an alternate web page to the popular web page.

an illustration of canonical tag pointing from an alternate page to a preferred one

Nevertheless it’s additionally a good suggestion to make use of self-referencing canonicals

In different phrases, every canonical web page ought to have a canonical tag that factors to its personal URL.

Like this:

an image highlighting "self-referencing canonical"

Google’s John Mueller confirmed the significance of self-referencing canonicals.

“It’s not crucial to have a self-referencing canonical tag on a web page, however it does make it simpler for us to choose precisely the URL that you simply wish to have chosen as canonical,” he said in a Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout.

Canonical tags are a priceless deduplication software. They will resolve points with duplicate content material (or near-identical pages) it’s essential hold.

For instance: 

  • American English and British English variations of the identical web page
  • Parameterized URLs (e.g., listings pages with filters or sorting choices utilized)

Why keep away from duplicate content material?

As a result of it could actually trigger key phrase cannibalization. This happens when a number of pages on a web site compete for a similar rankings. And hurt one another’s rankings within the course of. 

Through the use of canonical tags accurately, you assist Google perceive your web site’s construction. And determine one of the best model of a duplicated web page.

This helps make sure that the model you need is the one proven in search outcomes (and the one searchers entry). This could result in increased click-through, engagement, and conversion charges.

Plus, Google consolidates the “rating energy” of alternate pages on canonical URLs.

Let’s say you’ve backlinks (hyperlinks from exterior domains) pointing to varied duplicate pages. 

If these pages canonicalize, Google will deal with all of them as hyperlinks to the canonical URL. Collectively, they’ve a constructive affect on rankings.

an illustration of backlinks, alternate URLs and canonical URLs connection

Notice: Google no longer recommends utilizing canonical tags for syndicated content material. As an alternative, syndication companions are suggested to dam indexing with the right meta tags.

To implement canonical tags in your HTML, you possibly can add the rel=”canonical” tag to the <head> part of the web page. 

As a reminder, that appears one thing like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/preferred-url-here/" />

However your content material administration system (CMS) or a CMS plugin could can help you specify canonicals with out going into the HTML. 

Hold studying for directions on Magento 1, Magento 2, WordPress, and Wix.

Or bounce forward to find out about other canonicalization methods.

Magento 1

When you’re working a Magento 1 retailer, comply with these steps to specify canonical URLs for product and class pages.

Product Web page Canonicals

Log into your admin panel, then head to “System” > “Configuration.” 

Click on “Catalog” and open the “Search Engine Optimizations” part.

where to specify canonical URLs for product and category pages in Magento 1

If it isn’t already, set the “Use Canonical Hyperlink Meta Tag For Merchandise” discipline to “Sure.”

set the “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Products” field to “Yes”

Class Canonicals

Head again to the “Search Engine Optimizations” part on the “Catalog” web page.

Discover the “Use Canonical Hyperlink Meta Tag For Classes” possibility and ensure it’s set to “No.”

set the “Use Canonical Link Meta Tag For Categories” option to "No"

Now, you possibly can manually specify the canonical URL for classes.

Head to the edit web page of any class that you simply wish to canonicalize and discover the “Customized Design” tab.

Within the “Customized Format Replace” field, add the next code. Ensuring to swap in your canonical URL.

<reference title="head">
<motion technique="addLinkRel">

“Custom Layout Update” box in Magento 1

Magento 2

When you’re working a Magento 2 retailer, comply with these steps to specify canonical URLs throughout your web site.

Log into your admin panel, then go to “Shops” > “Settings” > “Configuration.”

Subsequent, open “Catalog” > “Catalog” and go to the “Search Engine Optimization” part.

“Search Engine Optimization” section in Magento 2
Picture Credit score: Amasty.com

Set “Use Canonical Meta Tags For Classes” to “Sure” so Magento will robotically add canonical tags to alternate class pages.

The default config path is “catalog/search engine marketing/category_canonical_tag.”

Additionally set “Use Canonical Meta Tags For Merchandise” to “Sure” so Magento will robotically add canonical tags to alternate product pages.

The default config path is “catalog/search engine marketing/product_canonical_tag.”


You possibly can set canonical URLs in your WordPress web site by utilizing a WordPress web optimization plugin. 

We’ll have a look at how to do that with two of the preferred plugins: Yoast web optimization and Rank Math web optimization.

Yoast web optimization Plugin

When you’re utilizing the Yoast SEO plugin, head to the Yoast web optimization choices on any web page or submit. 

Then, develop the “Superior” tab. 

You’ll discover a “Canonical URL” discipline the place you possibly can specify the web page’s canonical URL.

“Advanced” tab in Yoast SEO options

Rank Math web optimization Plugin

When you’re utilizing the Rank Math SEO plugin, head to the “Rank Math web optimization” field on any web page or submit. And open the “Superior” tab.

The “Canonical URL” discipline lets you specify the canonical URL for the web page.

“Advanced” tab in “Rank Math SEO” box


By default, Wix pages use a self-referencing canonical tag.

You possibly can change the construction of your canonical tags by going into your web optimization settings.

First, head to “Advertising & web optimization” > “web optimization” > “web optimization Settings.” After which select the kind of web page that you simply wish to edit.

For this workflow, we chosen “Fundamental Pages.” 

"Edit by page type" section in Wix “SEO Settings”

After deciding on the kind of web page, click on on the “Edit” button inside the “Further meta tags” part.

“Edit” button within the “Additional meta tags” section highlighted

Lastly, add variables to the sphere underneath “canonical” by clicking on “+ Add Variable.” And deciding on related objects from the checklist that seems.

adding variables section with a drop-down menu

You may as well edit the canonical tags of particular person pages. Simply click on on the “Edit by Web page” tab and choose the web page with the canonical tag that you simply wish to edit.

Then, click on on the “Superior” tab within the sidebar that seems. And go to “Further tags.”

image guiding readers how to edit the canonical tags of individual pages

Lastly, edit the hyperlink that seems within the “canonical” discipline.

“canonical” field highlighted

Different Methods to Specify Canonical URLs

Sometimes, you specify canonical URL preferences utilizing canonical tags. However there are different strategies you possibly can attempt:

Figuring out which kind of canonicalization to make use of helps you management how your web site seems on Google. And it could actually forestall points that come up because of duplicate content material.

Let’s have a look at these deduplication strategies in additional element.

A rel=“canonical” HTTP header lets you specify a canonical URL for non-HTML paperwork.

For instance, when you’ve got a .docx and .pdf model of the identical doc on-line, you need to use this technique to point your most popular model.

Nevertheless, you want to have the ability to change your server’s configuration.

Within the .htaccess file, specify a canonical URL by including code that appears like this:

Hyperlink: <https://www.instance.com/downloads/filename.pdf>; rel="canonical"

Redirect Duplicate Pages to Canonical Pages

URL redirects ship Google (and customers) from one web page to a different. 

Redirecting is one of the best deduplication technique in case you don’t must hold the alternate variations of the web page. However you don’t wish to delete the URLs altogether.

For instance, when you’ve HTTP and HTTPS variations of the identical web page. Google prefers HTTPS variations. So, it’s good in your web optimization to redirect the HTTP model to the HTTPS one.

Google recommends using 3xx redirects (server-side redirects) for the quickest outcomes. 

This contains the 301 redirect, which you’ll study extra about in our 301 redirect information.

Record Canonical URLs Solely in Your Sitemap

“All pages listed in a sitemap are advised as canonicals,” according to Google.

This implies it’s a good suggestion to submit canonical URLs (and non-duplicated pages) solely in your sitemap. And depart alternate URLs out. 

It’s not an enormous situation in case you depart duplicate pages in your sitemap. Google will determine which model is canonical. 

Nevertheless it might be an issue in case you depart most popular URLs out. So, hold your sitemap up to date.

When you don’t implement canonicals accurately, Google would possibly ignore them. And that may hurt your web optimization efficiency.

Observe these canonical tag greatest practices for one of the best outcomes:

Solely Specify One Canonical URL Per Web page

Solely specify one canonical URL per web page. In any other case, you’ll confuse Google.

Watch out to keep away from by accident together with two canonical tags inside your web page’s HTML code. When you set the canonical tag utilizing a setting in your CMS, don’t add extra canonical tags into your HTML manually.

And in case you add rel=”canonical” to the HTML, don’t additionally add it to the HTTP header.

Specify the Appropriate Area Protocol

In case your web site sits on the HTTPS protocol, you’ll want to reference this as your canonical URL. 

Take a look at our information to study extra about redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS.

Specify Trailing Slash or Non-Trailing Slash URLs

Take note of whether or not your pages use trailing slashes (i.e., “/” symbols on the finish of URLs). 

For instance: 

  • Trailing slash: https://instance.com/
  • Non-trailing slash: https://instance.com

If the identical URL exists with each the trailing slash and with out, Google might even see them as two separate URLs. You’ll want to reference your canonical URL accurately by together with the trailing slash if wanted.

And attempt to be constant throughout your web site.

Specify Non-WWW or WWW URLs

Non-WWW and WWW variations of a URL are seen as duplicate pages by search engines like google. 

For instance: 

  • Non-WWW: https://instance.com/
  • WWW: https://www.instance.com/

It’s greatest to decide on one model and keep it up throughout your whole web site.

Use Absolute URLs

Canonical tags must be referenced utilizing absolute URLs somewhat than relative URLs.

Meaning you need to use the total URL, together with your area. Like this:

<hyperlink rel="canonical" href="https://instance.com/weblog/" />

And never a relative URL. Like this:

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

It’s simple to make errors when implementing canonical tags. 

Listed here are two of the extra frequent canonical tag errors:

Pointing Canonical Tags to Redirected Pages

Watch out to not specify a canonical URL that redirects. This can solely confuse Google.

For instance, let’s say Web page A redirects to Web page B.

You should have no canonicals that time to Web page A. They need to level on to Web page B as an alternative.

Utilizing Canonical Tags for Non-Duplicate Content material

Solely set canonical URLs for duplicate or near-identical content material. 

Some SEOs attempt to use canonical tags to consolidate the rating energy of dissimilar pages. 

For instance, to direct authority from out-of-stock product pages to class pages.

Nevertheless, Google advises against this apply. And is extremely prone to ignore these canonicals.

Discover out what Google considers to be the canonical URL for any web page in your web site with Google Search Console.

After logging in, seek for a URL on the prime.

search for a URL in Google Search Console

When the “URL Inspection” report is prepared, open the “Web page indexing” part.

Scroll right down to see the “Google-selected canonical.”

“Page indexing” section in Google Search Console

If this isn’t your most popular URL, you could must evaluation the deduplication technique in your web page. 

To start out, be sure that the “Person-declared canonical” is current and proper.

“User-declared canonical” section highlighted in Google Search Console

To audit your web site’s canonical tags at scale, use Semrush’s Website Audit software.

As soon as setup is full, go to the “Points” tab.

Then search “canonical.”

search "canonical" in “Issues” tab in Site Audit

Examine for the next errors:

Site Audit results showing the list of different issues and errors

Let’s have a look at what these points are and how you can repair them.

# Pages Have Duplicate Content material Points

This error exhibits what number of pages in your web site might be thought of duplicates. As a result of they characteristic content material that’s no less than 85% equivalent to content material on one other web page.

Click on the hyperlink to see affected URLs.

"17,764 pages have duplicate content issues" page

You possibly can then determine how you can resolve the difficulty. See our duplicate content material information for recommendation.

# Pages Have A number of Canonical URLs

This error exhibits what number of pages in your web site specify a couple of canonical URL.

Click on the hyperlink to view an in depth breakdown.

"3 pages have multiple canonical URLs" page

To repair this situation, it’s essential take away the additional canonical tag(s) and depart only one in place. 

This situation exhibits which pages in your web site have damaged canonical hyperlinks—i.e., specify a canonical URL that doesn’t work.

(Maybe as a result of it comprises a typo. Or the web page has been deleted.)

Click on the hyperlink to see affected pages and the canonical URLs they level to.

"120 pages with a broken canonical link" page

Canonical tags that time to non-existent webpages complicate Google’s skill to crawl and index your content material correctly. That might hurt your rankings.

Be certain to replace these to the right canonical URLs.

# AMP Pages Have No Canonical Tag

When your AMP pages don’t have canonical tags, the Website Audit software flags it as a difficulty. It’s vital that canonicalization be in place between AMP and non-AMP variations of your web page.

You possibly can repair this drawback by including a rel=”canonical” tag within the <head> part of every AMP web page that factors again to the non-AMP web page.

Like this:

how to fix when an AMP page doesn’t have canonical tag

Tip: You need to use the verify bins and “Ship to…” button at any stage to create duties within the Semrush CRM, Trello, or Zapier. 

“Send to…” button in Site Audit with drop-down menu options: "CRM", "Trello" and "Zapier"

While you’ve fastened these points, rerun the Website Audit utilizing the gear icon within the upper-right. 

gear icon in the upper-right highlighted

Then, verify that the canonical errors have disappeared. 

"Errors" section in Site Audit showing "0 errors"

Prepared to begin addressing canonical points? Get began with Website Audit.

This submit was up to date in 2023. Excerpts from the unique article by James Brockbank could stay.