The ultimate guide to conducting a Canonical Tag SEO audit

The ultimate guide to conducting a Canonical Tag SEO audit

After optimizing all of your page titles, alt tags, and meta descriptions, it’s important to make sure you aren’t missing any opportunities to increase search visibility. This guide will help you properly audit SEO on all of your website’s pages through proper usage of the rel=canonical tag. If used correctly, this can be one of the most effective ways to combat duplicate content issues and ensure that search engines understand which pages are original and which are duplicates.

Start with basics. What is rel=”canonical”?

This tag informs search engine robots that the given URL is the original version of the page and that it should appear on the ranking list. Additionally, it is a suggestion for Google which page to index and evaluate in terms of all ranking indicators. It is located in the header in the html code. Its use allows you to avoid competition in the case of websites using the same or similar keywords and phrases. The canonical tag looks exactly like this:

<link rel = “canoncial” href = “httos: //www.address.coml/“>

  • Canonical URL. This link is the most representative version of the site in its subject area. This page shows up highest in search results.
  • Syndicated content. It allows you to collect data and content from different servers. The canonical address in this case sends information that our website is so unique that it should return to the list of search results. Thanks to this, we achieve a better match in terms of the intentions of Internet users.

What is it used for?

If we have many pages that we optimize in a similar way, the search engine has a problem with choosing a more important site. In such situations, they end up at a far position on the ranking list, and in extreme cases they are removed. By using the canonical tag, you will gain greater security and influence the indexing. Rel = canonical is also the case between different domains (cross-domain) for the proper functioning of the website.

How to check if a website has a tag?

If you’re not sure if your address has a canonical tag, you can:

  1. Use the CTRL + SHIFT + I shortcut to display the page code.
  2. Use the appropriate plug.
  3. Enter the Google Search Console panel – all information can be found in the admin panel.

Why should you pay attention to the Canonical Tag during an SEO audit?

The purpose of the audit is to evaluate the quality and behavior of your website. Everything that it consists of is assessed by experts and computer programs. It does not solve the problems you can face, but it creates a step-by-step instruction on what elements on the page you need to take care of in the first place.

Canonization is an automatic process that determines the main URL to be indexed by the search engine. It is treated differently by browsers.

On the occasion of this audit, you will find out if you have duplicate content on the page. In many cases, this concerns technical issues related to the website. Sometimes the site automatically adds the tag and allows access to the page, which is not always for the benefit of the administrator. On the other hand, it happens that there is an internal duplication, when we have two versions of the website – one http and the other https (with an SSL certificate). On the third hand, we duplicate our own content, we forget that the subpages function within a larger whole that positions everything in the same way.

What should I know about this tag when evaluating it?

  • The canonical tag is placed in the header of the page in the head section.
  • Adapt rel = “canonica”l to mobile devices. This is especially important in the context of the Mobile-First Index.
  • Remember to apply only one tag per page.
  • Avoid the so-called chain letters, they mislead search engine robots.
  • Remove out of date pages, they hinder the indexing process.

If your data is not saved in html but in PDF form, then the canonical address must be configured in the server space and in the .htaccess file. Unfortunately, we do not have access to the http header in this situation. And when it comes to websites created in WordPress, just use the Yoast SEO plugin.

Attention! If you do not indicate a canonical tag for a page, you have to take into account that the search engine algorithms will decide which page is the original. Of course, this has an impact on your online visibility. However, it should be remembered that this tag is not a command for the search engine, but only a suggestion.

How do you decide which one is canonical?

The first step is deciding which one is canonical. If both pages are about or contain the same information, then you’ll need to decide which page should be considered canonical. The easiest way is for whoever created the page to determine which one is considered canonical. If that’s not possible, then you can do a Google search and see which one comes up first in search results.

Last thoughts

If you want your blog post to rank higher on search engines, make sure to include rel=canonical tags in your code. This ensures that web crawlers understand which URL is the original and should be considered as canonical. You can also use this tag if you have multiple URLs for a single page. This will help web crawlers know which page they should be indexing.

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Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
Category: SEO
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