Canonical URLs: A 2 Minute Guide

You may convince search engines that two URLs that appear to be identical are actually the same by using a canonical URL.

Because occasionally you may have material or products that are available on several websites or URLs.

You can include these on your site without affecting your results by using canonical URLs (HTML link elements with the attribute rel=canonical).

The HTML element rel=canonical, sometimes known as the "canonical link," aids webmasters in avoiding duplicate content problems.

By mentioning the "canonical URL," or "recommended" version of a web page, it achieves this.

This is often the source URL.

Your site's SEO will increase if you use canonical URLs.

The Concept Of Canonical URLs

The concept is straightforward: If there are multiple versions of the same information, choose one to serve as the "canonical" version and direct search engines to it.

By including the canonical element in a URL, search engines are informed which URL to display in their results.

For instance, the canonical URL for my home page is as follows:

<link rel="canonical" href="" /> 

By looking for rel="canonical" in a webpage's source code, you can find the canonical URL.

Your users won't be impacted by it because it is a component that only search engines can view.

Google, Bing, and Yahoo! implemented the canonical link feature in February 2009.

A canonical URL is a technological way to handle duplicate content, as we described previously.

For SEO, duplicate material can be a major issue.

When search engines discover two (or more) pages that are very identical, they are unsure of which one to include in the search results.

As a result, it's possible that none of those pages will rank as high.

Canonical URLs: An Example

For example, you might have a post or product that belongs to two categories and has two URLs, like in: 

Setting one of these URLs as the canonical URL instructs search engines which one to display in the search results if these URLs are both for the same product.

Canonicals can also be used to direct search engines to the original version of a piece of writing.

Suppose, for example, that you've contributed a guest post to another website.

You could agree to post it with a canonical link to the original version if you want to post it on your website as well.


Canonicalization is the process of selecting one product's URL from a list of options.

Fortunately, it will often be clear that one URL is a better option than another.

However, it might not always be as evident.

There is no cause for concern here.

Pick one! That's really all there is to it even then.

It is never better to not canonicalize your URLs than to do so.

SEO Consultant

This article was written by Gaz Hall, a UK based SEO Consultant on 26th October 2022.

Gaz has 20 years experience working on SEO projects large and small, locally and globally across a range of sectors.

If you need any SEO advice or would like him to look at your next project then get in touch to arrange a free consultation.