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Canonical URL: Definition, Function, and How to Apply It

Last updated: Aug 03, 2022

What is a Canonical URL?

When it comes to SEO practices, every element on a website matters. A website's canonical URL is one of many important elements that affect the quality of its performance. The SEO optimization process can be made more effective by using Canonical URLs. Hence, Google can assess and see the quality improvement of a website.

The use of a canonical page is intended to make sure that the technical SEO of a website works accordingly and effectively or not. To do so, you need to inspect such an element before proceeding to continue to create content for your blog or website.

If your website gets bigger each day, consider using canonical URLs to manage it. By doing so, you can organize your content more neatly and avoid the case of duplicate content happening. Such a case often happens when there are a few pages discussing branches of certain topics.

In that case, a similar URL can affect Google's assessment of the website negatively and reduce its performance. If there are two or more similar URLs on a website, Google will find it hard to differentiate the main content from its variants.

The Functions of Canonical URL

Technically, a canonical URL is a snippet of an HTML code used to determine the main page out of all the variants that have similar URLs. Using this technique, you can suggest to Google that the intended page containing the main topic be indexed on SERP.

Since the issue of duplicate content can reduce the quality of a website's SERP, Therefore, it is important to put the label rel = canonical so that Google can detect the URL of the main page that must be indexed first.

Here are some examples regarding the duplicate content issue that can be detected by Google:

  • https://www.cmlabs.co
  • http://www.cmlabs.co
  • https://cmlabs.co
  • http://cmlabs.co/index.php 

In order to get the URL of the main page indexed by Google on the SERP, you must add the canonical tag on one of the intended pages first. By doing so, you can assist Google in doing the crawling process efficiently.

Why is a Canonical URL Important in SEO Optimization?

To avoid the duplicate content issue, you need to add the canonical tag to a page that contains the main content of a certain topic on your website. By doing so, you can reduce the excessive load of crawling and ensure the URL of the main page gets indexed by Google effectively.

With the existence of a canonical page, the process of tracking metrics of certain topics on a website gets easier. By applying such a tag, managing a website can be done more efficiently and neatly.

Another thing to note is that a canonical page can help combine the link signals that connect every piece of content with a similar topic on a website. By applying this method, Google can unify all such content into one selected URL. 

How to Apply a Canonical URL

In order to get the best assessment by Google, you can apply the use of a canonical label on some of the main pages on your website from now on. Here are several methods you can use:

Use rel=”canonical” on the HTTP Header

To assign a canonical tag on a certain page, you can use rel=”canonical” on its HTTP header. By doing so, Google can detect the URL and confirm it as the main page. Afterward, Google will start the indexing process accordingly.

Add the Tag link rel="canonical"

To get the main page detected by Google, you can add the tag rel=”canonical” on every URL of other pages that discuss a similar topic. In order to do that, you can mark the head of the HTML with the tag. Here are the steps to apply it:

  • Add the tag rel="canonical" to the element <link> on the section <head> of the duplicate page so it can be redirected to the canonical page
  • Make sure to add rel="alternate" on the canonical page that contains the URL variant for mobile devices
  • Use a diversion such as hreflang or the others to fulfill the need of the website page

Choose HTTPS as the URL of the Canonical Page

In this case, you must know that Google prioritizes pages that use HTTPS as the canonical page of a website. To get the best result, you can proceed with the transition from HTTP to HTTPS if you have not done it yet. 

Attach a Canonical URL on the Sitemap

To get the most effective result, you can attach the main or canonical page to the sitemap of your website. It is advised to attach the URL of the main pages only so that Google can detect the duplicate pages that do not necessarily need to be included in the crawling process. In order to check the sitemap of your website, you can use the Sitemap Generator from cmlabs for free.

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