Canonical SEO: An In-Depth Guide to Canonicalisation

Canonical or not? Read this in-depth guide on Canonical SEO.

Canonicalization, more commonly known as canonical SEO, is a concept that is vital for webmasters and SEO professionals to understand. It plays a significant role in handling duplicate content issues on websites, thereby preserving the website’s ranking and credibility. This guide dives deep into the world of canonical SEO, explaining its significance, how it works, and best practices to implement it correctly.

Understanding Canonical SEO

Canonical SEO refers to the practice of using the canonical tag, a way to tell search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. It’s used to prevent problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs.

Why Canonical SEO Matters

Duplicate content can confuse search engines, making it difficult for them to determine which version of a content piece is the original or preferred one. Here’s why canonical SEO is crucial:

  • Avoiding Duplicate Content Penalties: By telling search engines which version of a page is canonical, you prevent the algorithms from treating the copies as duplicate content.
  • Preserving Link Equity: Canonical tags help ensure that all the link equity gets directed to the canonical page, consolidating your SEO efforts.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Canonical SEO helps in delivering a consistent user experience by directing all users to the same content.

Types of Canonicalization

Canonical SEO can be implemented in different ways:

1. Self-Referencing Canonical Tag:

A canonical tag can point to the URL where it’s placed, ensuring that any variations of the URL are attributed to the original.

2. Cross-Domain Canonical Tag:

This is useful if you have the same content across different domains. The canonical tag will indicate which domain’s content is the authoritative version.

3. HTTP to HTTPS Canonicalization:

Ensuring that the HTTPS version of a page is the canonical one is vital for security and SEO.

4. WWW vs. Non-WWW Canonicalization:

Deciding whether the “www” version or non-“www” version of your site is canonical ensures consistency across your domain.

Implementing Canonical SEO

Implementing canonical SEO involves several steps:

  1. Identify Duplicate Content: Determine the pages that have duplicate content or could be perceived as such by search engines.
  2. Choose the Canonical Version: Decide which version of the page will be the canonical one.
  3. Implement Canonical Tags: Insert the canonical tag into the HTML head of the non-canonical pages, pointing to the canonical URL.
  4. Test the Implementation: Utilize SEO tools to test and verify that the canonical tags are implemented correctly.
  5. Monitor Regularly: Regularly monitor the canonical tags to ensure they remain relevant and accurate, particularly after site updates or restructuring.

Best Practices in Canonical SEO

  • Avoid Mixed Signals: Ensure that other signals like internal links and sitemap entries align with your canonical declarations.
  • Don’t Canonicalize Paginated Content: Canonicalizing paginated content can confuse search engines. Instead, let search engines index paginated pages separately.
  • Use Absolute URLs: It’s recommended to use absolute URLs rather than relative URLs in canonical tags to avoid confusion.
  • Avoid Canonical Chains: A canonical chain happens when Page A points to Page B as canonical, and Page B points to Page C. This should be avoided as it can create confusion for search engines.


Getting correct about Canonical SEO is essential for managing duplicate content on a website. Properly implemented, it helps in consolidating link equity, enhancing user experience, and preserving the integrity of your site’s ranking. If you do not know how, talk to our SEO specialist today.

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