Canonical URLs – Its functions and Uses

Canonical URLs – Its functions and Uses

With boon to digital marketing, the Search Engine Optimization technique has become an important part of the digital marketing business. What Canonical URLs do is, provide information to search engines about ‘Which URLs should be given importance’

What is a Canonical URL?

A canonical URL refers to an HTML link with attributes like rel=“canonical”, found in the head element of a webpage.  Its main function is to specify the search engine with your preferred URL for your site.

To explain in detail, the function of the canonical URL is to inform Google and other search engines to crawl a website and also to inform it about the URL index and content that will go under the website.  Canonical URLs play an important role in specifying one single URL for your site as URLs can have variations, based on many factors, but could be serving up the same or similar content (even though the URL might differ)

Let us understand this using an example

Take into consideration the following URLs

fashionableclothes.com

www.fashionableclothes.com

https://m.fashionableclothes.com

https://amp.fashionableclothes.com

https://fashionableclothes.com?ref=twitter

Each URL in the above example is referring to the same company, same website and same homepage for fashionable clothes.  But as you can notice each URL is slightly different from another one.  Having so many different URLs can be an issue for search engines as the search engine itself wouldn’t necessarily be precise on to which page should be the source of truth and it may end up choosing by itself a canonical URL based on its default algorithm for your website.

To say this in other words, if your website or web page is accessible by multiple URLs or you have different pages with similar content (i.e. same website but having separate versions for mobile and desktop) then you have an option to instruct the search engine which URL is the authoritative one for your page using canonical URL.

What are the benefits of Canonical URLs?

  1. Canonical URLs helps you to be specific about the URL that you want people to reach through search engine results.

For example

You might want people to reach your website of Fashionable Clothes through this URL

www.fashionableclothes.com

Instead of

https://amp.fashionableclothes.com

Or

fashionableclothes.com

  1. Canonical URLs simplify tracking metrics for a single topic or product of your website

When there are a variety of URLs (as mentioned above) for a single page or product, it becomes difficult to obtain a precise consolidated metrics. But with the help of Canonical URLs, you can specify which URL should be used and thus, the calculation of metrics becomes easier with one URL

  1. They combine link signals for similar or duplicate pages and manage syndicated content.

Canonical URLs helps the search engines to combine the information it has for all the individual URLs and links them into one single, authoritative URL. Also, if you syndicate your content to put for publication on other domains than canonical URLs prove to be a great help in providing a consolidated page ranking to your preferred URL.  These benefits in terms of similar or duplicate content across the website, in such scenarios your website will not have to compete for traffic or rankings in the search engines.

 

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