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Hinke Oevering

SEO Specialist

What is a canonical tag and how do you use it?

A canonical tag is a piece of code that you add to the HTML code of a web page. It acts as a kind of signpost for search engines, when there is duplicate content (also called duplicate content) on your website. After all, Google needs to know which page should appear in search results and which should not. Using a cannonical tag can create a lot of impact, while it only seems like a small action. So read all about what canonicals are and how to use them here.

Canonical meaning

The word 'canonical', in Dutch canonical, has different meanings in different situations. In this case, canonical means something like 'the default'. So with a canonical tag in your website, you indicate which page should be the default page. 

A canonical URL is the preferred version of a web page. For example, if you have a blog post published on multiple URLs, you can specify which URL is the main version. Google will use this URL as the source for the other pages. 

If you don't use canonicals, Google will select one URL to display in search results. The other URLs will then be considered duplicates and may even be penalised.

How to use canonical tags

You use the canonical tag on each duplicate page to indicate which one is the most important. This will make it clear to the search engine which URL to select for the result. In our blog on using canonical tags, read more here.

To start using canonical tags, create a new head> section in your HTML file with a link rel="canonical"> element. Then link each version of the same page to this canonical tag. If your site uses semantic markup, you can also include the title> tag in the head> element, giving each page its own unique title.

When not using canonicals

It is important that you only use canonicals for duplicate content. If the images and text are not (almost) identical, it is better to leave it. This is because a canonical tag causes the search engine to look at one of the pages and ignore the other(s). 

Want to know more about canonical tags?

Want to learn more about canonical tags and how they can help you further? Then take contact with us! Or request an technical SEO check to see how your website is doing technically.



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