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How to Deal With Canonical Issues?

What are canonical issues? How can it affect your website’s SEO? How can you deal with it? If you are seeking answers to these questions, read this article till the end. Content is central when it comes to digital marketing. Advertising, keyword placement, email marketing, YouTube marketing, social media marketing, and whatever online marketing elements you can think of depending on the content.

You must be aware that Google spiders crawl the content whenever it finds a new webpage. Content crawling is vital for any page to be indexed and ranked by Google.

But what happens when it lands on the same webpage for different URLs?

It treats them are separate pages.

Consider the following example:

http://example.com
http://www.example.com
http://example.com/index.html
http://www.example.com/index.html

As you can see, these are four separate URLs. However, all of them lead to the same webpage.

As Google spider considers every unique URL a unique webpage. It will crawl the given webpage through all these URLs because it thinks these are separate pages. As a result, Google will conclude that there are four pages with the same content.

Why are canonical issues bad for SEO?

Google doesn’t want to display webpages on its SERP that have similar content. And since it considers each URL as a separate page, it takes one URL out of them as the default and discards the rest. Now, the problem arises when it takes that URL as canonical/default which you might not prefer. This can undermine your SEO efforts.

Moreover, this can also lead to citation issues and dilute the quality of your backlinks. This is because when people cite your webpage in their content, they are going to use different URLs.

Therefore, it is important to identify such issues and rectify the problems to get the best of your SEO efforts. Today we’re going to help you with just that.

Best ways to deal with canonical issues

## 301 redirects

Sometimes, people may land on your webpages using that URL which you don’t prefer. In such a case, you can use 301 redirects.

It is basically used when you want to divert traffic from a duplicate URL to the canonical version.

There are many ways to implement 301 redirects. However, editing a site’s .htaccess file is the most common method. To access this file, go to your site’s root folder.

Below, I will explain how you can use 301 redirects in different cases.

★ From old to new domain

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^oldwebsite.com [NC,OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.oldwebsite.com [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://newwebsite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

★ From non-WWW to WWW

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^website.com [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.website.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

★ From WWW to non-WWW

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.website.com [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://website.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

From HTTP to HTTPS

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

## Canonical tags

Using canonical tags is another way that canonical issues can be dealt with. Wondering what is that?

A canonical tag is an HTML snippet. It defines the main URL versions for a webpage that has more than one URL. Basically, this attribute allows you to define which URL should be used for indexing by a search engine.

Again, there are a number of cases in which you can use canonical tags.

★ HTML Tag

One way of setting a canonical version of a URL is as follows:

Simply just add the rel=canonical tag in the <head> section of HTML code of the duplicate webpage(s):

<link rel=“canonical” href=“https://website.com/” />

This way, you will be able to define your preferred URL as the default for a webpage.

It’s always better to prevent than to cure. That being said, there are a few…

Useful canonicalization practices to follow:

## Canonical tags for syndicated content

One of the reasons why canonical issues occur is when syndicated or duplicated content is posted across more than one site.

If you are letting a secondary publisher post your content, make sure that it also uses canonical tags. Since it’d have the same content as on your website, this may also confuse Google. And hence, indexing and ranking issues will arise. As a result, Google may end up giving them a higher ranking than your original webpage.

Therefore, it is important to make sure that such sites also use re=canonical tag when publishing your content.

## Know when to use canonical tag and redirect

Sometimes, you may find that there is no use in having duplicate content on more than one webpages. Hence, you may want your visitors to completely ignore such webpages with duplicate content and go directly to the canonical version of those pages.

In such a case, using a canonical tag won’t be a good idea. Therefore, you should use a redirect for such pages.

So, when solving canonical issues, identify which method would work better.

## Keep a consistent and absolute format

This is another important thing to be kept in mind when dealing with canonical issues. Always use absolute URLs with consistent format all across the website.

A relative URL would drop the first part of your domain while an absolute one would include it all. It is advisable to use the latter. Moreover, make sure to use a consistent URL structure when using canonical tags.

## Inspect canonical tags and URLs every once in a while

It’s always a good thing to practice. Make it a point to occasionally inspect your URLs and canonical tags. This is just to make sure that your canonical remedies are working properly. This can be done by using various Search Engine Optimization tools and browser extensions.

This way, you will be able to prevent from such problems taking place.

Conclusion

Digital marketing businesses do many things to maintain their search engine rankings. However, canonical issues can seriously undermine your SEO efforts. Hence, it is important to identify such issues and eliminate them. This can be done by using redirect and canonical tags. Moreover, you should run an occasional check to ensure that your canonical remedies are working fine. This way, you will be able to efficiently deal with canonical issues and keep a high Google ranking.

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Somya Sharma : Regardless of being a Delhi University graduate with a major in English Literature, Somya's interests are not limited to poetry and drama. As a person who loves researching, discussing and writing about topics rooted in various disciplines, the list of subjects that tickle her fancy is ever-growing. She finds the power of psychology in marketing particularly intriguing and has set out writing blogs with the aim of helping budding marketers polish-up.