What are Canonical URLs?

SEO holds great significance for every website, including online stores. Canonical URLs play a vital role in safeguarding your client’s website against penalties from search engines and ensuring robust SEO. They serve the purpose of preventing confusion among search engines when multiple URLs lead to the same content or webpage, and assist in identifying URLs with identical or closely related content.

Whether you possess prior knowledge of canonical URLs or are encountering the term “rel=canonical” for the first time, this article will provide you with comprehensive information. By understanding these details, you will be able to optimize your client’s online store effectively for search engines. Let’s delve into the subject.

What is a canonical URL? A canonical URL, commonly known as a canonical tag, refers to an HTML link element present in the <head> section of your client’s webpage. It includes the attribute rel=”canonical” and serves the purpose of specifying the preferred URL to search engines.

In essence, the canonical URL element provides instructions to Google and other search engines regarding website crawling and indexing of a particular page’s content. This is crucial due to the potential existence of various URL variations that may deliver identical or similar content. The specification for canonical URLs was introduced in April 2012 and is extensively covered in RFC 6596.

Consider the following URLs as examples:

  1. woracious.com
  2. www.woracious.com
  3. https://m.woracious.com
  4. https://amp.woracious.com
  5. https://woracious.com/?ref=linkedin

Although these URLs may point to the same homepage content of the website, they possess slight variations. This situation can pose challenges for search engines since they cannot determine with certainty which page should be regarded as the primary source of information.

Put simply, if you have a webpage that is accessible through multiple URLs or if you have different pages with similar content (e.g., separate versions for mobile and desktop), it is important to explicitly specify to the search engine which URL should be considered as the authoritative or canonical version of that page.

The consequence:

Canonical URLs serve as a safeguard against the pitfalls of “duplicate content” on your website. However, they can often become a source of SEO nightmares if Google mistakenly identifies the wrong canonical URL.

If you have observed the disappearance of certain pages from Google’s search results, despite fulfilling all of Google’s requirements, it is likely because Google has erroneously associated an irrelevant canonical URL with your content. This situation can be incredibly frustrating, particularly when you are actively attempting to drive traffic to a specific page on your site.

If you find yourself in this predicament, wondering why Google fails to select the correct dominant URL for your page, this article offers comprehensive solutions to address these concerns. Continue reading to discover the most effective remedies for this issue.

2. Historical dot

The revelation initially surfaced through a webmaster’s account in the Google Webmaster Help forums. The webmaster detected the disappearance of numerous pages from Google listings and attributed it to Google’s misselection of an inaccurate canonical URL for certain pages, suspecting it to be the fundamental cause of the issue. The specific error observed in the Google Search Console was denoted as “Duplicate, submitted URL not selected as canonical.”

In his explanation, the webmaster elucidated, “The predicament lies in the fact that the two pages are dissimilar, and the canonical URL chosen by Google does not align with the user’s preferred canonical URL.”

John Mueller of Google acknowledged the issue in the forum, affirming that it is a recognized problem that the team is actively addressing. In the interim, he advised webmasters to employ the rel=”canonical” link element to explicitly designate the appropriate canonical version of each page to Google.

Should you encounter this issue, it is imperative to inspect your Google Search Console account for any occurrences of “Duplicate, submitted URL not selected as canonical” errors. Subsequently, you can utilize the rel=”canonical” link element on your pages to ensure Google’s accurate selection of the canonical URL. However, if the same error persists, an elusive factor may be at fault.

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