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What are Canonical URLs and How to Solve Canonical URLs Errors

There is a lot of mystery surrounding Canonical URLs.

So, if you too have questions about Canonical URLs, then this article is just for you, as here we clear your doubts about each and every aspect of Canonical URLs.

It might happen that you have content that is available on search engines under multiple URLs. This can create content duplication issues as search engines are not able to ascertain the original source for documents that is accessible over different URLs.

By using Canonical URLs, you make sure that the multiple URLs carrying similar content can exist without doing any harm to your search rankings. With Canonical URL, you point out to search engines that the URLs carrying similar content are one and the same.

What are Canonical URLs?

The Canonical URLs (which are often referred as rel=canonical or the canonical tag) are actually the URL which search engines refer to when they see multiple versions of a web page around the web.

It is best described as the process of selecting the best URL when there are several URLs carrying the same piece of content on the web.

Let’s see what canonicalization is?

Well, it’s quite a usual phenomenon to have several URLs for the same web page.

For example:

https://www.earningguys.com
https://earningguys.com

Both of these URLs go on to load the same webpage that is the homepage. In addition to these URLs, there can also be other versions of the URL which load the same web page. They can have additional parameters like /index.php or /home.php.

So, potentially there could be different URLs which load the same homepage for EarningGuys.

Now, this turns out to be a problem for search engines.

The Search Engines face indexing issues when they visit your website. It makes matters worse for search engine spiders when your website also contained URL based session IDs.

For example:
http://www.yourdomain.com/?PHPSESSID=234

So, the problem arises when instead of indexing the main URL, search engine spiders indexes one of these sessionID URLs.

These SessionID URLs do not have any link authority associated with them. Worst of all, they harm your SEO efforts and your rankings on SERPs gets badly affected.

Overall, there are content duplication issues as search engines are not able to detect the main source URL that carries the content over several webpages.

On Page SEO: How to do it right!

Canonicalization Issues affect Link Authority

Usually, the http://www.yourdomain.com/ is your main URL.

However, it is not obvious for your users and search engines.

If you are not using a Canonical URL (rel=canonical tags), it is most likely that other similar URLs get indexed, and links also go to other similar URLs. Here, the user might directly use, http://yourdomain.com

Now, this leads to a scenario where the link goes to both the URLs and hence the link authority is getting diluted.

This creates a situation where you have different URLs linking to the same web page.

This is where Canonical URL plays their master role.

By using Canonical URL, all of the links pointing to a webpage go to one URL. It increases the link authority of the URL, as links go to the Canonical URL.

With Canonical URL, you tell search engines which variation of the URL, you would like to use as canonical or preferred.

It’s not important, which version of your URL, you choose. It’s rather important that you select one URL as canonical and stick with it.

Using the rel=canonical tag

The Canonical Link URL (referred as a rel=canonical tag) determines the original source of the content when the content is available in more than one URL.

So, the search engines use the Canonical Link URL to select and choose the URL which carries the original document that bloggers or webmasters prefer to link.

It is considered as a directive for search engines ranking algorithm to “honor strongly” the main URL which has the original document.

When you use the rel=canonical link in your web page, you tell search engines that you want to index this particular web page among duplicate pages on the World Wide Web.

How to Solve Canonical URLs Errors

Using Canonical Link URL can turn out to be a bit tricky for most bloggers and webmasters as they usually fail to figure out when there’s a misconfiguration.

So, Canonical URL Errors is a common phenomenon.

Here’s a quick round-up of the best practices that you should follow for using rel=canonical to avoid Canonical Errors.

• The preferred canonical web page version should have a large portion of content matching the duplicate page’s content
• Make sure that the target URL referred by rel=canonical link exists
• The rel=canonical target link should not contain a noindex robots meta tag
• The rel=canonical link should be included at the <head> of the page or the HTTP header
• Specify only one rel=canonical URL for a webpage

Error 1: Use of rel=canonical link to the first page of a paginated series

In such a scenario, you should use rel=canonical from component pages to a single page version of the article. You can also use rel= “prev” and rel= “next” pagination markup.

Error2: Multiple declarations of rel=canonical

This error occurs when pages have multiple rel=canonical links to different URLs. In such cases, search engines ignore all the rel=canonical hints. So, benefit occurring from a legitimate rel=canonical link will be lost.

In such cases, checking the page’s source code will help to correct the issue. It would be a good idea to check the entire <head> section as rel=canonical URLs may be spread apart.

Error 3: Using rel=canonical URL in the <body>

The rel=canonical URL should be present only in the <head> of an HTML document. However, if you use rel=canonical URL in the <body>, it will be disregarded.

To avoid this mistake or error, you should double-check to verify that the rel=canonical URL is present in the <head> of your page. It is recommended to use the rel=canonical link in the <head> as early as possible.

Fixing Canonicalization Problems

Canonicalization issues can be fixed by using “canonical tag” that enables you to declare (within the HTML Header) that the specified URL should be recognized as a copy of the original document and names the canonical URL to which all link authority should be directed.

Example:

<link rel=”canonical” href= https://www.earningguys.com/ />

By doing so, you specify to the search engines to index the canonical URL specified in this tag and pass the link authority to the canonical URL.

Another solution is to use 301 redirects.

It is used to redirect permanently from one URL to another and carries link authority from one URL to other.

However, implementing 301 redirects is harder than the rel=canonical tag.

For 301 redirects, you have to create a .htaccess file that has to be uploaded to the root of the server. Doing this is a complicated affair for a non-programmer. So, it is recommended to get a programmer to do this for you.

Concluding

So, we see that by using Canonical Link URL, you can pass on the link authority to the original document. Choosing one canonical URL uplifts your SEO efforts. Search engines might penalize you for having duplicate content. However, by using Canonical Link URL, you can specify your original document and can direct all the link authority to it. Thus, it helps to boost your search engine rankings.

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