For those of you that don’t know, The rel=canonical element, often called a canonical link or canonical URL, is an HTML element that helps webmasters and SEO managers prevent duplicate content issues. It does this by specifying the “canonical URL”, the “preferred” version of a web page – the original source, even. Using it well can improve a site’s SEO.
Why use canonical URLs
Google and other major search engines are constantly crawling the web for content, and the number one thing they look for to rank your content higher is for that content to be unique. This means, that if someone creates a search query, then they will look for content to match that query to the letter.
Now a common SEO tactic used to be that if you wanted to rank for a specific key phrase, you would want to create different pages on your website dedicated to the phrase you wanted to rank for in the SERP. This would tell the search engine that not only do you have one page that is relevant to the search query, your site is relevant. Now unless you’re writing totally unique blog posts that are all held within the same niche and topic, you might want to use the canonical link element. If you’re copying content from one page to the next, Google may see this as duplicate content and it may raise a flag.
How to use a canonical URL
The canonical link element is very simple to add to a web page. All you have to do is add the following tag in the head of markup and replace the address in the href tag with the link to your original / main content page.
<link rel="canonical" href="https://okay.company/" />
If you’re using Yoast for WordPress you can also navigate to the settings section of the Yoast modal (the gear icon) on the individual pages to set a canonical link for that page.
When to use a canonical URL
You should be using a canonical link element whenever you copy and paste the majority of the content from one page to another, and place the canonical link element for the page that you want to appear in SERPs on both pages, the original and the duplicate. It’s also important to use the canonical link element if you have the same page available at two different links. Let’s say your blog is available at both yourdomain/articles and yourdomain/blog on your website. You’re going to want to put the canonical link element on both pages as well.
If you have any more question about when to use a canonical link element, feel free to contact us for more info.