Canonical Tag – A canonical tag is also referred to as ‘rel canonical’. The search engine uses this tag to tell if a specific URL represents a master copy of a page. A lot of time a lot of duplicated or multiple content appears on multiple URL and the canonical tag can help you with that.
In short, this tag tells the search engine which version of URL it wants to appear in the search results. To solve the problem of duplicate content and to remove plagiarism, Google uses the canonical tag or the process of cannibalization.
Duplicate content on Google is very common but when search engines crawl on different websites that have duplicated content then there they can find a lot of SEO problems. If the search crawlers find a lot of duplicate content on your page then they may miss out enough of the unique content written and also this affects the ranking of your page on the search engine.
And even if your page does rank on the Google search engines then the search engine would pick up the wrong URL as the ‘original’. Using the canonical tag one can check their supplicate content and improve it.
Best Practices for the Canonical Tag
- Always use canonical tags for your homepage
Homepage is the area that gets duplicated the most and in a lot of ways that is beyond our control. So, putting this tag in the homepage template is always good to prevent any kind of problems in the future.
- These tags can be self referential
There can be URLs that look similar to us but not to the search engine. Hence, for example, if in between URL A, B, and C, C is the original website, you can put the tag of cannibalization before URL C.
- Always spot check your dynamic canonical tags
A lot of times it happens that the bad code causes a site to write a different tag for every version of the URL available. This is not the point of these kinds of tags. So, always spot check your URLs on every kind of website majorly CMS driven and e-commerce websites.