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Beginner’s Guide to Canonical Tags

canonical tags
05 May 2016

Duplicate content can be detrimental to search rank, however, if reusing the same content is the only option, there is a way for you to mark the original source. Introducing canonical tags, your secret to keeping ranking power on duplicate content.

Why Are Canonical Tags Important?

Without canonical tags in place, Google is faced with quite the conundrum should duplicate content arise. They use their algorithms to make their best guess as to which page should be shown, but they don’t always get it right, and sometimes, they just revert to a completely different result instead. A canonical tag does the deciphering for Google. Canonical tags tell search engines what to ignore so that credit can be properly placed.

How to Use Canonical Tags

Whether you are syndicating out your content, you use the same descriptions for several products, or any other cause of duplicate content, you should mark each duplicate with a canonical tag. The original source is the canonical page, and all the others ones point to it in the URL. The official tag is placed in the header of the URL and uses a <link> element with the rel=”canonical” attribute. Google gives this example:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://blog.example.com/dresses/green-dresses” />

What Canonical Tags Are Used For

Canonical tags can be extremely helpful for many reasons:

  • Merge Link Signals – By using canonical tags, you can give all of the link juice to the original source instead of it being dispersed out between all of the sites with the same content.
  • Accurately Track Metrics – If you are trying to track the performance of one topic or product, canonical tags make sure you are seeing the correct metrics.
  • Choose the Top Result – As mentioned, if you skip canonical tags, Google will choose which page it gives the most clout to—with canonical tags, you get to have a say in which page should be the most prominent.
  • Give You Credit – If you are syndicating out your content to other domains, you don’t want them to rank higher than you. Make sure you use canonical tags so you will still outrank the others.

Canonical tags can be quite confusing, but if you use them correctly, you will be thrilled with the results. While they certainly aren’t required, without them you risk your entire site suffering. If you do have duplicate content, and you want to get control of it before Google filters you out, contact Zero Gravity Marketing today. We are pros at canonical tags and we would love to put them to use for you.