To understand the importance of a canonical tag (rel=canonical) while optimizing any website, we must first understand the meaning of the canonical tag. The process of canonicalization was introduced to evade content duplication and problems related to it. In simple words, sites with multiple pages and having identical content must make use of canonical tag. Having detailed know how on implementation of a canonical tag is still a challenging task for SEO experts.
Canonical tags were basically developed to secure content duplication. In simple words, if you have 2 similar pages or at least most relevant ones, by applying canonical tag, you can choose amongst the two pages that is to be shown in the search results . Which makes it easy for the search engine to help identify the page to be indexed.
Proper Use of Canonical Tag: rel=canonical
Before using a canonical tag, you should check whether both the pages have similar contents (or relatable to each other). This generally means that the content of both the pages .i.e., images, gifs and texts should be relative and identical. The pages having irrelevant content but have the same topic, such pages are more likely to be ignored by the search engines. It is also to be checked that the page does not have a “noindex” tag. In order to sum it up, here is the list to implement a Canonical URL without mistakes.
- Identical content should be present on both the pages.
- The canonical tag must be in the header of the websites html.
- There should be only one canonical tag on a page.
- There should not be a “noindex” and/or “nofollow” tag on the web page.
- The canonical tag should be applied to a page that you want the search engines to index.
Benefits of Canonicalization while Optimizing a Website:
Search Engines do not like duplicated content. They find it difficult to understand as in which page is to be indexed and to be shown in the SERPs.Canonical tags came into existence to solve these issues of duplication and improve search rankings and thus it affects SEO positively. It affects SEO in two ways:
It influences search results directly: It generally means, you can ask search engine to show the page which you are willing to show your users. If a certain keyword is showing the users, Page A, you can ask search engine to show Page B, instead of Page A by adding a canonical tag.
Boosts in general rankings: The search engines like when you make it easy for them to scan a page. That is what exactly the canonicalization process does by helping search engines in identifying which page is to be scanned and to be displayed.
The canonical tag can be added straight up on the page which is in question - without even having the rights to access the server configuration. Now, we know how canonical tag can help our SEO rankings. So, now it all depends on how precisely you make use of it.