For SEO success, implementing the Rel=Canonical tag to pages on your website is a must. But what exactly does the tag do, and why is it important? In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of the Rel=Canonical tag, explaining what it is, how it works, and when to use it. We’ll also cover the potential SEO benefits (including enhanced search visibility and improved search engine rankings), and how to implement the tag in your website. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the Rel=Canonical tag, and you’ll be well on your way to harnessing its power for SEO success. So buckle up, and let’s get started.

Quick Response

The rel=canonical tag is an HTML element used to tell search engines which version of a web page should be indexed. This helps consolidate multiple pages with similar content, and can improve your website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results.

What is rel=canonical?

Rel=canonical, also known as the canonical link tag, is a way to indicate which page of content should be used as the “master” version in search engine results. This simple piece of HTML code helps webmasters tell search engines that multiple pages contain identical or nearly identical content and should be treated as one entity. It also prevents issues such as duplicate content from detracting from a website’s search engine ranking potential.

In a nutshell, rel=canonical tells search engines that you ONLY want one particular page of your website to show up in their index – even if there are other versions floating around on the web. This can prove to be extremely beneficial for SEO success, since it reduces page authority dilution from competing URLs showing up in search engine results.

At the same time, however, rel=canonical isn’t perfect: if used incorrectly or unknowingly, it can actually penalise websites by communicating wrong information (or no information at all) to search engines and preventing them from properly indexing key content.

Fortunately, with proper knowledge and implementation strategies in place, rel=canonical can be leveraged to its full potential. In the next section we’ll discuss how this useful tool works and how to use it most effectively for SEO success.

How Does rel=canonical Work?

Rel=Canonical is an HTML link element that tells search engines which page of content should be prioritised when multiple versions of the same page exist. In some cases, it may work like a “301 redirect” in terms of directing users to another version of the page. Rel=canonical informs search engine crawlers which page to prioritise, increasing SEO visibility and preventing duplicate content penalties.

The webmaster can manually choose which URL they would like to have indexed, by inserting the rel=canonical tag into the section of the html code. Not only does this ensure arrival at the right address but also signals ‘the canonical version’ which the search engine will list in search results. The other coding on these separate pages remains unchanged while the dialogue box denotes which one is favoured.

The debate around rel=canonical has raised questions about whether its use actually confuses crawlers and if their indexing policy should be relied upon in this way. On one side, it could be argued that this system can be confusing for Google, as potential changes made to the ‘non-canonical’ version are not taken into consideration by the favoured page listed. Nonetheless, with clear implementation and through thorough monitoring of content versions, confusion should not arise. As long as webmasters are confident that they are choosing and actively monitoring the ‘correct’ page then rel=canonical is useful for avoiding duplicate content penalty or ensuring that all traffic is directed to originally intended page.

By carefully monitoring changes across versions, webmasters can confidently utilise rel= canonical and achieve successful SEO performance. This leads us on to consider what HTML tag should be used for implementing this tool and how we can best ensure reliable indexing by search engines.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what is the HTML tag for rel=canonical?

What is the HTML Tag for rel=canonical?

The HTML tag for rel=canonical is made up of an “attribute” and a “value” that provide instruction for web browsers in the form of an html link element. The attribute is called “rel” and this is what indicates the relationship between the two pages, with the value being set as “canonical” to indicate that the linked URL should be considered the primary source. For example, the general format looks like this: .

This technique helps search engines identify which version of a given page should be indexed and displayed in its SERP results, preventing duplicate content issues while also allowing website owners to better optimise their SEO efforts by directing search engines to their preferred versions of a page (for example, when one version of a page exists at multiple URLs) rather than having all those URLs competing against each other for organic visibility (in search engine rankings).

Arguments have been made for and against the use of rel=canonical tags. On one side, proponents argue that it’s an effective way to ensure only your preferred version of a page is indexed by search engines, rather than all versions being cannibalised by competing metrics such as page authority, keyword density, etc., or even creating duplicate content issues. On the other side, detractors point out that misuse of canonical tags can have negative repercussions from a technical SEO perspective; if misassociated canonical links are used it could result in unexpected indexing behaviour which may not be recognised until much later down the line.

In conclusion, it’s important to weigh both sides of the argument carefully when deciding if rel=canonical tag use is right for your particular website needs. In our next section, we will take a look at how exactly rel=canonical is implemented on websites in order to achieve optimal SEO success.

How is rel=canonical Implemented?

Implementing rel=canonical is fairly straightforward and can often be done without the assistance of a web developer. Webmasters edit the HTML of their pages to include the rel=canonical tag in the section. This tag is just an HTML element that points to the preferred version of your page or post. But there are two things to keep in mind when structuring the URL and inserting it into a page:

1) You must specify the entire URL, including the http:// or https:// and all subdirectories, not just the domain name.

2) The URL you specify must be an exact match to the one in the browser address bar and should not have any redirects in between it.

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can implement your canonical tags through a plugin as part of your SEO strategy. The good news is that many popular plugins handle this for you by default, so all you need should be already set up for you after installation.

However, a degree of caution must be taken when implementing canonical tags. Not understanding how to correctly implemented them could lead to some unintended consequences such as having Google ignore duplicate content altogether or worse yet, getting your site penalised. So it’s important to make sure that when using rel=canonical tags you are always confident that your implementation strategy is correct and valid before making any changes.

With strategic implementation, rel=canonical can greatly improve both website usability and search visibility with minimal effort on your parts, making it a vital tool for any SEO success plan. Now let’s take a look at some other benefits that can come with implementation of rel=canonical.

Next we will explore further benefits of implementing rel=canonical and how it effectively helps improve website visibility across various search engines.

Benefits of Implementing rel=canonical

The rel=canonical tag is an effective way to consolidate duplicate content and provide better navigation around a website in order to boost SEO. One of the biggest benefits of implementing rel=canonical is that it provides webmasters improved control over the URLs associated with their web pages. This increased control allows websites to clearly define their primary version of a particular page, while still giving visitors access to additional content they may be interested in. Linking the different versions of a particular page via the rel=canonical tag also helps prevent Google from treating those multiple versions as duplicate content, which could be penalised and affect rankings within search engine results.

When used correctly, rel=canonical can result in higher rankings for certain pages due to improved navigation between them. Using rel=canonical also makes it easier for search engines to index a website’s content accurately, meaning it can be more easily found by potential customers or readers. In addition, using this technique can help increase traffic from search engines, as well as make it simpler for users to find the information they’re seeking throughout your site.

However, there are some potential drawbacks associated with implementing rel=canonical into your website’s design, including the possibility of creating orphaned pages that aren’t linked to any other pages on the web (since each URL only contains one canonical link). As such, webmasters should carefully consider how they implement this technique before doing so.

Nevertheless, when used appropriately, rel=canonical offers several benefits that are worth considering in terms of improving website visibility and rankings. Moving forward, let’s discuss potential problems you might face when implementing rel=canonical into your website’s design.

  • According to a 2020 study, over 50% of websites sampled used canonical tags in their HTML code.
  • A Moz survey from 2019 found that 64% of SEO experts believe that canonical tags are highly important for SEO ranking.
  • Approximately 97% of webmasters working on enterprise websites reported using rel-canonical tags in 2019.

Potential Problems with rel=canonical

As with all SEO tactics, rel=canonical comes with its own set of potential problems. Understanding what these are and how to address them is key to successfully utilising rel=canonical in one’s SEO strategy.

The most common issue that arises with rel=canonical is when a canonical tag has been set up incorrectly. This can cause the rel=canonical attribute to send search engines to the wrong page, resulting in duplicate content issues, confusing indexation, low click-through rates, decreased visibility in SERPs and website traffic, and various other negative consequences.

Furthermore, there have been numerous cases where rel=canonical does not work as intended; for example, on WordPress sites running Yoast SEO, multiple canonical tags were performing as expected until version 7.3 came out – then suddenly stopped working correctly due to a bug. Issues may also arise when implementing rel=canonical across a large website because of the amount of manual work required and the complexity of ensuring constancy throughout every page.

Another danger to be aware of is manipulation attempts by malicious actors looking to gain an edge by pointing search engines towards pages containing spammy or low-quality content on their own sites via the canonical tag. Such behaviour is considered a black hat SEO tactic and should not be used under any circumstances.

Finally, it is important for webmasters to take into account that indices do not always follow the re=canonical rules set out by Google in terms of prioritising the primary URL specified within the canonical link element – since each search engine applies its own rules when dealing with this type of HTML element.

By understanding and addressing these potential issues before attempting to put rel=canonical into practise, webmasters can reduce the risk of potential problems cropping up during implementation or later down the line. Now let’s dive into best practises for using rel=canonical for SEO success…

Best Practises for Rel=Canonical

Rel=Canonical is popular among SEO experts for its ability to help boost a website’s ranking on search engines without needing to launch a full-scale content makeover. While Rel=Canonical is mainly used to specify the preferred version of duplicate or similar pages, there are best practises that should be considered when using this tag.

The most important rule of thumb with Rel=Canonical is that it should only be used on duplicate pages. Content that has been moderately edited may contain enough information to make it distinct from other pages – in which case, setting up a canonical is not necessary as the content would be considered unique. Additionally, setting up a canonical link can cause Google to consolidate page traffic stats and rankings onto an undesired page. Therefore, before adding a canonical link to any page, it’s important to first ensure that the content across those pages are almost identical and that no traffic discrepancies would result in the Rankings being consolidated into one page.

When deciding which version of the content gets rel=canonical pointing back to it, as stated earlier rel=canonical link should point back to the original or preferred version of the duplicate URL. Additionally, if the quality of each page varies from one another or if there’s significant differences between them then using rel=canonical may not be ideal as it could negatively affect user engagement and SERP rankings. For example, if one version of a page has more external links than another version then choosing one version over another can have an adverse effect on user experience as users will only see one version of the content even though multiple versions exists.

Lastly, thanks to Google’s Advanced URL Parameter handling tool webmasters can now specify how a site’s URLs should be handled when they contain additional parameters such as question marks ‘?’ and ampersands ‘&’. This allows webmasters to inform Google what should happen when URLs contain additional parameters (ignored/indexed) and reduces the need for implementing multiple canonical tags across various URL variations.

The use of rel=canonical is often debated among SEO professionals; some contend that relying too heavily on canonicals can lead to inconsistent page crawling but what’s important here is understanding when using this tag is appropriate and when it isn’t. If applied correctly, rel=canonical can save time by allowing websites easy access to manage similar webpages without needing to update all copies – making them great tools for creating clean links for optimal organic performance within search engine results pages.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions with Explanations

How can rel=canonical be used to improve SEO?

Rel=canonical is an HTML element that helps to promote SEO by eliminating duplicate content issues. It allows webmasters to specify which page is the main, or canonical, page of a group of similar pages on their website. By specifying the canonical page, search engine crawlers know exactly which page to index and how to assign credit for the content across all variations. This helps improve SEO by consolidating the webmaster’s ranking power into one URL while avoiding penalties against duplicated content. Additionally, rel=canoncal tags can help reduce crawling time and unnecessary load on your web server, ultimately leading to improved page ranking as well.


QUESTION: What is rel=canonical and how does it affect SEO?

Answer: Rel=canonical is an HTML tag that tells search engines which version of a page should be indexed. In other words, it indicates to search engine crawlers which URL should be given credit for ranking purposes, even if there are multiple URLs with identical or very similar content. By using rel=canonical, webmasters can ensure that their preferred version of a page is the one that appears in organic search results. This helps websites improve their SEO performance by preventing duplicate content issues and ensuring that the most optimised pages are the ones appearing in search results.

What are the best practises for using the rel=canonical element for SEO?

The best practises for using the rel=canonical element for SEO involve ensuring the canonical URL points to the most critical and relevant content that you want users to find. This helps avoid duplicate content issues, which can hurt your rankings by confusing search engines and splitting up link equity. Additionally, it’s important to specify absolute URLs in the canonical link rather than relative paths and always include a self-referencing canonical tag on every page. Finally, as rel=canonical is not intended as a permanent redirect solution, use 301 or 302 redirects instead when wanting to permanently move content from one URL to another.

What is the meaning of the HTML element rel=canonical?

Rel=canonical is an HTML element that is used to identify which version of a web page should be treated as the canonical and thus preferred version. The rel=canonical element communicates to search engines which of multiple pages with the same content should be considered the authoritative source and which pages should not be indexed. By providing this information, rel=canonical helps to ensure that quality websites with duplicate content do not get penalised by search engines for unethical SEO practises and that users are able to find the best, most relevant source of information for their queries. When implemented correctly, it can also help sites to gain better rankings in search engine results.

What is the purpose of using the rel=canonical HTML tag?

The purpose of using the rel=canonical HTML tag is to tell search engine bots which version of a webpage they should index and show up in searches. It is used when you have multiple similar pages with very similar content. This can often happen when you have an ecommerce store that has multiple product pages, but all use the same template and style. The rel=canonical tag will allow you to specify one particular URL as the “master” page, so search engine results will focus on that one version.

Using a rel=canonical also helps websites avoid being penalised by search engines for having duplicate content, since you are telling them which page is the original and should be indexed. In addition, it can help maximise SEO success by funnelling users to the most likely page for conversion or engagement.

Last Updated on February 27, 2023

Matt Jackson

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
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