Canonical URLs or Canonicalization

It’s quite common for a website to have multiple urls that lead to thr same content. Another common configuration is when the Home page is accessible as index.html or when upper and lowercase urls lead to the same pages.

Ideally, Google wouldn’t even run across any of these alternate versions which is why we recommenf picking one url format and using it consistently across your website. In practice life is really perfect Google discover all sorts of urls leading to the same contents. For search it doesn’t make such sense to index all of these versions. so Google try to pick one and focus on that.

What is a Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Practically speaking, the canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.

Canonical tag code example
Credit: Moz

How Does Google Pick The Canonical URL?

  1. Site’s Performance

    1. Link rel canonical annotation
    2. Redirects
    3. Internal Linking
    4. URL is the Sitemao File
    5. Https Urls
    6. “Nicer”- looking URLs
  2. User’s Performance

The more you will be consitent the more Google System will follow your lead and use those too. What happens when differnt urls are chosen? Simply put its just the URL that shown in Search. If Google Systems pick a different URL as a canonical it’ll rank just a same in search.

In the end it really just comes down to your preferences. If you have your preferences regarding urls then let the search engine know unmistakably but if not, that’s fine too and if a different url happens to be chosen from time to time that’s not going to negatively affect the site either.

Why does canonicalization matter?

Duplicate content is a complicated subject, but when search engines crawl many URLs with identical (or very similar) content, it can cause a number of SEO problems. First, if search crawlers have to wade through too much duplicate content, they may miss some of your unique content. Second, large-scale duplication may dilute your ranking ability. Finally, even if your content does rank, search engines may pick the wrong URL as the “original.” Using canonicalization helps you control your duplicate content.


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