Duplicate content occurs when information found on two or more pages is identical or nearly identical. The most serious issue with duplicate content is that it causes indexing and presentation issues for search engines because they aren’t sure which version to use. Metrics like trust and authority can be especially challenging to pinpoint. It also dilutes link equity because other sites may pick any of the many links when deciding which of the duplicate content versions to link back to. Canonical URLs (aka rel canonical) serve this purpose. You can use them to fix duplicate content problems, boosting your SEO.
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Search engines use a canonical URL (aka rel canonical) to determine which version contains the most up-to-date and authoritative content when there are multiple versions of a page on the same or different websites.
Say, for illustration, you made a blog post available on your website. The next step is to share the article on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Medium. To signal to search engines that the version of the blog post they should prioritize is the one hosted on your domain, you can use a canonical tag.
You should also know that a canonical URL isn’t a URL. Rel canonical is a tag appended to a URL to convey its intended meaning to crawlers. Also, they are an important part of technical SEO set by every single SEO company.
Why do You need To Use Rel Canonical?
By designating one URL as “canonical,” you inform search engines that this specific page should be prioritized over similar ones. Canonicalization increases link equity by directing link requests to a single URL. In addition, all of a piece of content’s metrics are compiled on a single page, strengthening your reports’ integrity.
For example, you start a website. You create and optimize a landing page for SEO but forget about canonicalization. What will happen? Crawlers won’t know which page to rank and all the budget spent on digital marketing services will be lost.
While it’s possible to set canonical URLs manually, we recommend using a plugin because it’s the easiest, most reliable, and most adaptable method. In this tutorial, we’ll be utilizing Yoast SEO.
Launch a WordPress post or page after installing and activating Yoast SEO. To access the Yoast SEO box, please scroll to the very end of the post. Select the SEO menu item (it should be highlighted automatically) and go to its very bottom; from there, select Advanced. The Canonical URL option can be found at the bottom of the resulting drop-down menu. Set your rel canonical there and you’re good to go.
Canonical URLs can be set regardless of whether or not you’re using WordPress. It is necessary to view the page’s HTML file first. Although the steps for creating a website will vary by builder, they should all be straightforward.
Finding the area where you can alter the HTML for a page or post is the same for most non-WP builders and CMS platforms. The rel=”canonical” tag should be added to the head section after the URL is finalized. If you feel it might go wrong, get some help from a digital marketing agency and just relax.
It’s very simple to check if a page has a rel canonical. If you open the page and right-click, you’ll see some options. Select View Page Source to reveal the original HTML of the page (or whatever option is close to that, like View Page Source). When you click that, an HTML source page will load. The head part is at the very top. Look for the rel canonical tag there.
How To Remove Rel Canonical?
Removing a canonical URL is also simple. To remove the URL, you follow the same steps used to add it. You can remove it from the field using a plugin like Yoast and then edit the page as usual. If you’ve added it to the page’s HTML directly, you can remove it before saving the new version. For the same reason, canonical URLs should be consistently added in the same place, preferably just above the closing head tag.
Final Words About Rel Canonical
Setting up your canonical URL strategy will be time-consuming if you have many pages on your site. It’s best to address this issue early on and monitor the websites where your content is being reposted. WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO make it simple to set canonical URLs without manually accessing each page’s HTML and making the necessary changes.