What are canonical URLs? When you have 2 webpages, that have duplicate content, a special tag is needed that explains what URL is the original source of content. Otherwise you going to have a bad time.

Also known as the “rel canonical tag”. Often it’s shrouded in mystery if you ask a random marketer. But most SEOs should have a firm understanding of its use cases.

How To Use Canonical Tags In HTML

Google gives some pretty clear advice on how to use canonical tags, and why. Canonical tags can save a website headaches, in case of unforseen technical issues, causing a URL to have multiple URLs.

If this happens, just slap a canonical tag on all of those duplicate URLs pointing to one variation that you want to keep authority for and search engines will only care about that URL.

Where Do You Place The Canonical Tag In HTML?

A canonical tag is normally placed in the header of a website, so it’s parsed around the sametime your other important SEO metatags are located. Whatever you do, never place a canonical tag in the body or footer of a website, it’s just bad practice. Canonical tags can be a harder part of technical SEO to convey to developers. But just focus on the technical aspects that make sense, and explain it like a soft redirect in a way.

What Are The Use Cases Of A Canonical Tag?

It’s not just as simple as using for just duplicate content. Canonical tags can have some other useful benefits to be utilized when:

  • Specific what URL you want shown in SERPs
  • To reduce the link juice
  • To help clean up metrics / analytics / tracking clutter
  • To optimize crawl budget

How To Check A Webpage Canonical Tag?

You can check the canonical tag of a website via the source code, and searching on page for the word “canonical”. Or for a more useful view, you can use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console and view the canonical tag via the URL information provided by googlebot.

Do I Have To Use A Canonical Tag?

Believe it or not, you don’t! If you are 100% certain that the URL in question and duplicate content is no longer needed, you can 301 redirect that URL to the URL that you want to be the sole location of that content. This can actually be the preferred method, due to the reduction is URLs as well as the benefit to the user and searchbot, as you prune and reduce the overgrowth of your website!

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