What Is A Canonical URL In SEO?

Search Engine Optimization or more commonly known as SEO has quickly become an important aspect of businesses online. Not only that, content creators are using this process to reach out to a wider pool of audience.

However, most of what SEO consists in are very technical processes or at least they seem to be. But they don't have to.

In this article, we'll talk about one of those concepts in SEO that might come off as easy only to the computer gurus among us - Canonical URL in SEO. Read on if you'd like to find out more.

So what's a canonical URL anyway?

Definition of canonicals

We get it! The word is a bit frightening if you're just starting out with this SEO thing but if you plan on sticking around you better get used to terms like this. Ever heard of crawling? Or indexing? Yeah, it gets confusing. But the plan here is not to scare you away.

In simple and plain English, canonical URL is the URL that would get picked by a search engine where there are other URLs that are similar or can be considered as duplicates. So the same pages cannot be repeatedly appearing in the search engine, the one that it picks is the canonical.

The key word here is similarity. How similar should the two URLs be? glad you asked.

How similar can the URLs be?

For a search engine like Google or Bing to pick out a canonical URL, two URLs need not be necessarily one and the same. If they are found to be similar to a certain extent, Google, or whatever other search engine you may be using will pick one and index it.

If you're new to the SEO scene, then you probably don't know about indexing too, but don't worry, you can check out another introductory article on the topic using this link. But for now, let's just say that indexing occurs when a search engine vets your website and decides to put it in its page.

Now, the question still remains, how similar could they be so that Google or other search engines pick a canonical URL between them? Google says that different colors and filters are not enough for each URL to be indexed.

For now, it helps to know that there must be reasonable variations between the contents and the name of the URL for a search engine to not pick one over the other.

It's in your hands

Hyphens vs. spaces

You may be wondering how you can use the canonical URL to your advantage. Well, it helps to know that it is in your hands.

You choose which URL becomes the canonical URL and represents you in the front pages of the biggest search pages where your page belongs. Here's how you can do it.

If you're tech-savvy, you'll know where we're going with this. Here's a rule of thumb - use absolute URLs, meaning the entire URL which includes the protocol.

And then integrate into the head element of the second URL to refer to the first page. This will indicate to Google and other search engines that the first URL is more important and that it should be crawled and indexed in the search engines result pages, but you can call it SERPs for short.

But this doesn't mean that your search engine will invariably accept your preferences. At times, it will choose the other one, but the effects aren't particularly worrying because at the end of the day, the search engine is forced to pick because the URLs are just a little too similar.

There'll be no love lost between your website and Google, at least when it comes to canonical.

How will it help?

Removing query strings

A canonical URL is essential for two reasons when it comes to search engine optimization. First off, the fact that there are duplicates of your site, will affect the ranking. And you can't afford to let your ranking slip if you're planning for any sales, exposure or views.

Your preferred search engine will find out and you will pay the price, so let your choice be known and let the search engine do the leg work of choosing and indexing. The other reason you should take this canonical URL thing seriously is because of your preferences.

You obviously have a page that you'd like to get more exposure, or a page that's relevant, more important than the others, in many cases the home page.

By setting out your preferences for that page, you'll have a better chance of getting that site indexed, resulting in more exposure, sales or views, whichever number you'd want to grow, will start climbing.

But that's just one step of a great many when it comes to getting a hang of search engine optimization, so make sure to stick around and catch our blogs.

About The Author

Juice Staff Writer
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