How To Set Up a Canonical Tag for your Website [VIDEO]

July 17th, 2013 • By:  • On-Site SEO

Q & A Video

If you’ve got duplicate page problems, perhaps a canonical tag can solve your problems! Did you know that your pages might be cannibalizing each other in the search results? Help Google determine which pages should be ranking for your most important keywords by using the canonical and meta robots tags.

Transcript

Hi, I’m Brynna, and today we’re going to talk about the canonical tag. So what is the canonical tag? It’s a little piece of code that you actually paste into the header section of your website to tell Google which similar page you want to be ranking.

For example, if you have an e-commerce site and you’ve got product pages, you would have naturally a category of View All. So maybe you’re viewing all of trinket A. You would want to have your View All page indexed so that everything on there can be seen, and in the search results someone is going to see that versus maybe page two of your product pages or page three because they start from the middle. So you want to tell Google which page is actually the important one to rank.

So how does this kind of affect you? You want to make sure that, especially after Panda, your duplicate content isn’t being indexed. So you tell Google this is the page that I want and don’t look at this page. Now it’s only suggestive, so you have to use the No Index tag to make it a little stronger. But essentially you’re suggesting to Google which page is more important.

So how do we use the canonical tag? Well, it looks like this, and it’s a very simple little piece of code that you paste in between the header tags on your website. This is what it kind of looks like in a whole page, what it would look like what you’re looking for. And in there you’re just looking to see the little tag that says “canonical.” That’s the word you’re looking for.

Your pages have to be similar. So you wouldn’t want to say your About Us page and your Contact Us page because those should have separate content, and you want both of those to rank individually. You want to make sure that the pages are similar enough that maybe it could be confused for duplicate content, or someone would have trouble deciding which page they’re actually interested in because they would be that similar.

It could be a product that has a different color or a different year or something similar to that. It’s essentially the same product but a different page. It could also be on your View All page. You wouldn’t want page two to be ranking. You’d want your View All page to be ranking. And there is a separation between the canonical tag and pagination, which is the tag for Next and Previous. So those are separate and a whole different video.

So how do you set up the canonical tag? Well, first you want to identify your group of pages that are similar and identify which one you want to be ranking. So say we have two pages that are extremely similar and we want to choose page A. We would identify and say, “Okay, these are similar. The URL is absolute. There are not many parameters, and it’s similar to this page.”

What we would do is on both pages paste the canonical that says Page A should rank. You put that on page A and page B. Then what you want to do on page B is put in the little meta robots No Index tag. Now you want to No Index this because it’s similar enough to the first page that it won’t affect the user experience if they can’t find it in the search engine, but they can still find it online. So don’t be worried about that. But you want to use the meta No Index because the canonical is just a suggestion, and using the No Index makes it more of an absolute for Google.

So all you do is you copy that onto page B in your header tag. It’s very simple and straightforward, and that’s it. Hope you enjoyed.

Brynna Baldauf

Brynna is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist at Vertical Measures where she helps clients improve their organic search engine rankings.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 at 8:31 am and is filed under On-Site SEO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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