How Can Canonical Urls Impact Technical SEO?

How can canonical URLs impact technical SEO? 

Canonical URLs are a key component of technical SEO, and understanding how to use them can help you avoid duplicate content issues on your website or even the entire internet. If you are new to SEO, you may not have heard of canonical URLs, but if you are not a developer or have never done technical on-page optimization for your site, it’s important that you understand how they work and why they should be used. 

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What is a Canonical URL?

A canonical URL is a page that Google and other search engines prefer over any other version of the same page. Using these canonical links will help ensure that your content is prioritized and indexed correctly by search engines, and in turn, will lead to increased traffic and higher rankings for your site. 

How can a canonical URL impact technical SEO?

Depending on the situation, you can use different methods to specify a canonical URL. These can include HTML tags, HTTP headers, XML Sitemaps, and 301 redirects. 

The most basic way to set up a canonical URL is to add an HTML link tag, also known as the rel=canonical tag. This can be added to the head> section of a duplicate page, and will inform search engines that this is the preferred version of the content. 

Another way to set up a canonical is to use HTTP headers, which are more common on PDF files and other documents. Adding these headers is the easiest method to specify a canonical, but you should consider implementing them for all pages that have duplicate content. 

How Does Google Choose a Canonical URL?

Whenever Google discovers that a page is under multiple URLs, it will try to index and rank one of them as the primary version. This chosen version is called a canonical URL, and it will be the primary source of information for search engines. 

If you are unsure about which canonical URL to use, there are several ways to test and find out which one is the preferred version. You can use tools like Google Search Console to do this, but you should also be aware that it is not a guarantee that any particular URL will be selected by a search engine. 

This is because search engines can take many different factors into account when determining which URL to index. This includes things like the website’s sitemap, the page’s relative age, and possibly other data as well. 

What are some of the most common types of duplicative content?

A common type of duplicate content is when the same statement, press release, or blog post appears on different websites. This content can be useful to the site, but it is a problem if Google doesn’t know which version of the content is the most relevant or helpful to the user. 

You can resolve this issue by adding a canonical tag to all versions of the content on your site, including those published through social media and other channels. This will make it clear to search crawlers which version is the original and thus will help you meet best practices for SEO.