Using canonical tags on your website helps to prevent duplicate content. Duplicate content is a problem because it wastes Google’s time and resources, and dilutes link equity. If you have a number of pages on your website, each of them can have a different content and a different URL. This means that search engines may ignore your duplicates, and they won’t be able to rank them. This can affect your search engine rankings, especially in search engines that use a semantic analysis method to determine which page to index.
Canonical tags were created by Google and Bing to address the problem of duplicate content. They are a way of ensuring that search engines know which version of a page to index and which to serve. When used correctly, canonical tags allow search engines to easily crawl and understand which version of a page contains the original content.
Canonical tags are placed in the head of the page. For example, when an eCommerce collection page is sorted by product, it has a link to filter products. This link will be viewed by Google as a link to the main version of the page. However, if your page contains two or more links to the same product, Google may view the trailing slash in the URL as a different URL, and may not treat the product pages as duplicates.
While canonical tags are not an essential part of SEO, they can have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. In addition, they can help Google to crawl and index pages more quickly. They also help Google to identify the master version of a page, which can lead to a more accurate search result.
When you want to add a canonical tag, you’ll need to follow some basic rules. The canonical tag should be unique for each URL on your website. In addition, it should not carry the noindex tag. It also must point to a URL that is indexable by Google. If your URL is invalid, Google will interpret the link as a Soft 404.
You should also use lowercase URLs on your website. This is because lowercase URLs are more easily understood by search engines. While it’s not a good idea to use the trailing slash to identify which version of a page is the canonical version, using lowercase URLs can help the search engines understand which version to serve.
If you want to use canonical tags to address duplicate content, you will need to follow the guidelines for best practices. These guidelines include limiting the number of canonical tags on your site, using the right canonical tags to avoid duplication, and only using canonical tags for pages that are related to one another.
In addition to using canonical tags, you should also encourage responses from visitors to your links and CTAs. This will help to foster relationships with your customers. If you have multiple sites publishing content, you should also consider using content syndication to bring more readers back to the original site. You can check your pages for canonical tags in MozBar, a free SEO toolbar. It can check 100s of thousands of pages at once, and will show you if you have missing canonical tags.