Canonicalization: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Check for Canonicalization Problems

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Canonicalization is an important aspect of SEO that is often misunderstood. Many people are unsure what it is, how it works, or how to check for canonicalization problems. In this blog post, we will explain what canonicalization is and how it works. We will also provide instructions on checking for canonicalization problems on your website. Finally, we will discuss some of the most common canonicalization mistakes and provide tips on avoiding them.

What is canonicalization?

Canonicalization is the process of choosing the best URL when there are multiple options. For example, if you have a website with both “example.com” and “example.net” as URLs, canonicalization would involve selecting one of these URLs as the preferred URL. The preferred URL is typically the one that is most search engine friendly and will be used by search engines when indexing your website.

Canonicalization Signals:

Google monitors several signals to determine the canonical version of an URL should be. These include duplicates, canonical link elements, redirects, internal links, and sitemap URLs. After monitoring these signals, Google determines the canonical version and indexes it.

Duplicates: If there are multiple versions of an URL, Google will select the canonical version and index it.

Canonical Link Element: The canonical link element is an HTML element that helps Google determine the canonical version of an URL. The canonical link element looks like this:

“link rel=”canonical” href=”example.com” />”

If you have a self-referencing canonical link element on your website, you are telling Google that the URL in the href attribute is the preferred or canonical version.

Redirects: Redirects are used to send users from one URL to another. When using redirects, it is important to specify the preferred or canonical version in the redirect. This will help Google index the correct URL.

Internal Links: Internal links go from one page on your website to another page on your website. When linking to a page, it is important to use the preferred or canonical version of the URL. This will help Google index the correct URL.

Sitemap URLs: Sitemap files contain a list of all the pages on your website. When submitting a sitemap file to Google, it is important to use the preferred or canonical version of all URLs. This will help Google index the correct URL.

How does it work?

Canonicalization works by specifying a preferred URL for your website in the HTML code. This is done by adding a special tag to the head section of your website’s code. The tag looks like this:

“link rel=”canonical” href=”example.com” />”

The href attribute specifies the preferred or canonical URL for your website. This tag tells Google that the specified URL is the preferred version of your website.

How do you check for canonicalization problems?

There are a few ways to check for canonicalization problems on your website. The first way is to use Google Search Console. Google Search Console is a free service from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in Google search results. Simply add and verify your website with Google Search Console to use it. Once you have done this, you can access the “Search Traffic” > “Links to Your Site” report. This report will show you the number of links to your website that Google has found. If you see multiple versions of your website, it means that you have a canonicalization problem.

Another way to check for canonicalization problems is to use a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider. This is a desktop program that crawls websites and provides detailed information about the URLs it finds. To use it, download and install the program. Once you have done this, open the program and enter your website’s URL into the “Enter URL To Spider” field. Then click “Start.” The program will then crawl your website and provide information about each URL it finds. If you see multiple versions of your website, it means that you have a canonicalization problem.

What are some common canonicalization mistakes?

One of the most common canonicalization mistakes is self-referencing canonical tags. A self-referencing canonical tag looks like this:

“link rel=”canonical” href=”example.com” />”

This tag tells Google that the specified URL is the preferred version of your website. However, if you have multiple website versions, this tag will only tell Google about one of them. As a result, Google may index the wrong URL.

Another common mistake is using redirects without specifying the preferred or canonical version. When using redirects, it is important to determine the preferred or canonical version in the redirect. This will help Google index the correct URL.

Finally, another common mistake is using internal links without specifying the preferred or canonical version. When linking to a page, it is important to use the preferred or canonical version of the URL. This will help Google index the correct URL.

Canonicalization is an important part of SEO. By understanding how it works and how to check for problems, you can ensure that your website is being indexed correctly by Google.

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