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Technical SEO : What is a Canonical URL?

What is a canonical URL?

Each and every page of your website should have a canonical URL. This is defined by adding the tag <link rel=”canonical” href=”yourpageurl”>, in the <head> of your posts and pages.

It’s a simple way to tell Google which version of a page to take into account when indexing your website. The concept is similar to the preferred domain where a single page is accessible through various URLs.

A canonical URL is added in the HEAD section of a page and tells search engine which is the preferred URL for the particular page. A canonical URL can point to itself (self-referencing) or to a different URL.

What is Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag (aka rel=”canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Practically speaking, the canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.

Canonical Tags are most commonly used to:

  • Help webmasters solve duplicate content issues
  • Help search engines index the most appropriate page (in case pages have similar/identical content)
  • Help webmasters specify their preferred domain
  • It’s a way to specify which page to index in cases where you have accelerated mobile pages (AMP) enabled on your site

How do I find my canonical URL?

A canonical URL is only visible to search engine crawlers and not users. It is added to the <HEAD></HEAD> section of a page and has the following format:

Code Sample

<link rel=”canonical” href=”CANONICAL-URL”/>

To find the canonical URL of page, you can view the HTML Source of a page.

When and How to use Canonical URLs?

Duplicate content is a complicated subject, but when search engines crawl many URLs with identical (or very similar) content, it can cause a number of SEO problems.

  • First, if search crawlers have to wade through too much duplicate content, they may miss some of your unique content.
  • Second, large-scale duplication may dilute your ranking ability.
  • Finally, even if your content does rank, search engines may pick the wrong URL as the “original.”

A website is more likely to have duplicate content issues, even if you don’t intentionally duplicate your content across different URLs.

Typical cases of duplicate content include:

  • A URL is accessible with or without www in the URL – For example: and

  • A URL is accessible with both http and https protocols – For example: and

  • Pages that have print friendly versions – For example: and

  • Pages with identical content but different URLs – For example: and

As humans, tend to think of a page as a concept, such as your homepage. For search engines, though, every unique URL is a separate page.

For example, search crawlers might be able to reach your homepage in all of the following ways:


To a human, all of these URLs represent a single page. To a search crawler, though, every single one of these URLs is a unique “page.”

Monkey Owl

Monkey Owl

Monkey Owl help students, professionals and entrepreneurs like you to learn and master the concepts of Digital Marketing and grow their career or business.

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