How to Use Canonical Tags Effectively

How to Use Canonical Tags Effectively

There’s a tool in SEO that’s often missed but incredibly important: canonical tags


Canonical tags are a key part of how your website talks to search engines. Understanding and using them properly can really help your website show up better in search results. This guide is all about breaking down what canonical tags are, why they matter, and how to use them correctly. 


Even if you're new to SEO, you'll find that getting to grips with canonical tags can make a big difference in how visible and well-ranked your website is. 


Let’s get started and learn how these tags can help your site succeed online.


What Are Canonical Tags? 


Canonical tags are an important part of SEO, helping search engines understand which pages on your website are the most important. 


Think of canonical tags as special markers on your web pages. They tell search engines which version of a page you consider the main one. This is really useful when you have similar content on different pages and helps prevent page or keyword cannibalisation. 


For example, if you run an online store with multiple pages showing the same product under different categories, canonical tags help you specify which product page is the main one. 


Suppose you have a product page accessible via and another at


By using a canonical tag, you can direct search engines to the main product page you want customers to visit. This is necessary for avoiding confusion when similar content appears on different pages of your site, making sure that search engines and customers see the page you prioritise.


Why Are Canonical Tags Important in SEO? 


Canonical tags play a key role in SEO by helping search engines understand which page on your website is the most important, especially when you have several similar pages. 


They act like signposts, guiding search engines to the page you want to be recognised in search results. This is really important for online businesses because it makes sure the right pages are noticed and ranked well.


Think of it like this: If your online store shows the same product on different web addresses, a canonical tag can indicate which address is the main one. This is decisive because it helps search engines concentrate on the right page, boosting your website's visibility and preventing confusion when there are multiple similar pages.

For e-commerce sites, these tags are particularly useful. They make it easier for search engines to pick the most relevant page for a product, which not only helps your site show up better in search results but also makes it easier for customers to find what they're looking for on your site.

Implementing Canonical Tags Correctly

Implementing Canonical Tags Correctly


Using and implementing canonical tags correctly is a simple yet impactful way to help search engines understand your website better. Let's break down when and how to use these tags effectively, especially for businesses with a significant online presence.


When to Use Canonical Tags


Canonical tags act as clear signals to search engines, showing them which pages on your website are the most important. This is especially helpful when your site has similar content on more than one page.


For example, if you have an online store where the same product appears under different categories, each with its own web address, canonical tags can help. They guide search engines to understand which product page is the primary one that you want customers to see.


Another scenario is when your website offers printer-friendly versions of articles. These versions often have the same content as the regular web pages but are formatted differently for printing. Here, canonical tags are useful in pointing out to search engines that the standard version of the page is the main one.


In both cases, canonical tags simplify how search engines view your content, making sure that they focus on and direct users to the pages you consider most important.


Step-by-Step Implementation Guide


Implementing canonical tags is a simple yet essential task for improving your website's SEO, especially if you're running a business with a lot of online content.


1. Choose Your Main Page


First, decide which page on your website is the main one. This is the page you want customers and search engines to focus on.


2. Add the Canonical Tag


On other pages of your website that have similar content to your main page, you need to add a special piece of code in the HTML. This goes in the 'head' section and looks like this: <link rel="canonical" href="">


Replace the URL with the address of your chosen main page. This step tells search engines which page is most important.


3. Be Consistent


Make sure you use this tag in the same way on all similar pages. This helps search engines understand which page is your priority, keeping things clear and avoiding confusion.


Adding Canonical Tags in WordPress


For those using WordPress, adding canonical tags is even easier:


• Go to the page or post in your WordPress dashboard that you want to edit.

• If you’re using an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, find the Yoast SEO section, usually at the bottom of the page editor.

• Click on the 'Advanced' tab.

• In the 'Canonical URL' field, put the URL of your main page.

• Save your changes.


This method is user-friendly and doesn’t require dealing with HTML code, making it a great option for businesses that regularly update their websites but might not have deep technical skills.


Why It Matters for Your Business


For businesses with lots of products or content online, using canonical tags is more than just an SEO tactic. It’s about making sure your customers find the right product or information quickly and easily. These tags guide search engines to the most important pages, improving how your site shows up in search results and enhancing the overall experience for your customers. 


In short, canonical tags are a key part of managing your online presence effectively, helping both with search engine rankings and customer satisfaction.

Canonical Tag Best Practices

Best Practices for Canonical Tag Usage


For businesses with a strong online presence, understanding how to use canonical tags properly is key to successful SEO. This section is all about guiding you through the best ways to use these tags and how to avoid common errors. By getting it right, you make sure your website talks clearly and effectively to search engines.


Canonical tags help search engines understand which pages on your website are the most important. Using them correctly guarantees that your website is indexed accurately, which is especially critical for businesses that frequently update their content or have many similar pages. We’ll show you how to optimise these tags to improve your website's search engine performance and avoid the common issues that can confuse search engines and negatively impact your SEO efforts.


Optimising Canonical Tags


To maximise the impact of canonical tags, it's important to adhere to some key strategies. 


Firstly, always use absolute URLs in your canonical tags. An absolute URL is a full web address, like, which is more precise than a relative URL like /page1. This precision is vital in seeing to it that search engines correctly understand which page you're pointing to. 


For businesses with extensive product lines or content, using absolute URLs in canonical tags helps prevent confusion when the same product or article appears under different paths or categories. 


Additionally, conducting regular audits of your canonical tags is important to maintain their accuracy. This involves checking that the tags are up-to-date and pointing to the correct URLs, which is especially important for businesses that frequently update their websites with new products or content.


Avoiding Common Mistakes


While canonical tags are incredibly useful in SEO, it's important to use them correctly to avoid some common mistakes. Missteps in using these tags can lead to issues with how search engines index and understand your website.


One typical mistake is using inconsistent or incorrect URLs in canonical tags. This can happen, for example, when a website undergoes updates or changes its URL structure. If the canonical tags aren’t updated to reflect these changes, search engines might end up indexing the wrong pages. This can be particularly troublesome for businesses updating their websites, as it can lead to a mismatch between the site's content and what appears in search engine results.


For example, consider a retailer that restructures its website to improve user navigation. They change the URL of a popular product category from to If the canonical tags on related product pages still point to the old URL, search engines might not recognise the new, more relevant pages, adversely affecting the site's search engine visibility and user experience. Therefore, it's critical for businesses, especially during website updates, to make sure that their canonical tags accurately reflect the current URL structure.


It's also important to avoid overusing canonical tags. This happens when many pages on your website use these tags to point to just one main page, like the homepage. This can be a problem, especially for businesses with a lot of different products or services. Overusing canonical tags in this way can confuse search engines. They might have a hard time figuring out what each page is really about, which could weaken your website's search engine performance.


Let’s say you have a business that sells kitchen appliances. You have different pages for fridges, dishwashers, and microwaves. If all these pages have canonical tags pointing back to your homepage, search engines get mixed signals. They might not understand that each product page has its own unique content and value. This can make your individual product pages less visible in search results.

Impact of Canonical Tags on SEO

Impact of Canonical Tags on SEO


Knowing how canonical tags impact SEO is important for any business looking to boost its online visibility. Here, we'll explore more examples to understand the benefits of using canonical tags correctly and the problem of incorrect usage.


Consider an e-commerce store specialising in outdoor gear. They faced a challenge with duplicate content as the same products appeared on several pages of their website. Once they started using canonical tags to indicate the main page for each product, their search engine rankings began to improve. This change made their key products more visible on the internet, drawing more customers to their website.


Another example is a website that focuses on providing articles and information. They saw a significant increase in website visitors after using canonical tags to point search engines towards their most comprehensive and recently updated articles. This strategy made it easier for users to find the best and most relevant content, greatly improving the site's search performance.


These scenarios demonstrate that canonical tags are not just a behind-the-scenes SEO technique. They are key in helping direct potential customers to the most relevant and valuable content on your website. Proper use of these tags can improve your search engine rankings, leading to increased traffic and better online visibility for your business.


Analysis of Negative Impacts Due to Improper Usage


Just as correctly using canonical tags can benefit your SEO, using them incorrectly can cause problems. Let's look at how improper use of these tags can negatively impact a website.


For example, an online retailer made the mistake of setting canonical tags on many of their product pages to point back to their homepage. This confused search engines, making them think that the homepage was more relevant than the actual product pages. As a result, the specific pages for products dropped in search rankings, making it harder for customers to find what they were looking for.


Another issue arises with overusing canonical tags. Consider a business blog that applied these tags too broadly, directing most of their posts back to a few main articles. This overuse created confusion for search engines, making it hard to understand the unique value of each post. Consequently, the SEO effectiveness of individual posts was weakened.


These examples highlight why it's important to use canonical tags carefully and accurately. When used correctly, they enhance your website's SEO, but when used incorrectly, they can do more harm than good. It's critical to apply these tags in a way that clearly and accurately communicates the content structure of your website to search engines.




Throughout this guide, we've explored the major role of canonical tags in SEO, highlighting their significant impact on content management and search engine ranking. The correct implementation of these tags is not just a technical detail; it's a strategic move that can be a game-changer in your digital marketing efforts. 


By making sure that your website's content is accurately represented and indexed by search engines, you open up new opportunities for improved visibility and engagement. As you move forward, consider evaluating your current use of canonical tags and take this opportunity to refine your approach. Remember, small elements like canonical tags can make a substantial difference in how effectively your website communicates with search engines and, ultimately, with your audience.


Take a moment to review how your website is currently using canonical tags. Reflect on the information shared in this post to see if there’s room for improvement.

If you're keen to get your website's SEO on point and think canonical tags could help, our team at Marketix Digital, an SEO Agency in Sydney, is ready to assist. We know all the ins and outs of SEO, including how to use canonical tags effectively to make your website stand out online.


Whether you're just starting out or you're an established business looking to up your SEO game, we at Marketix Digital have the expertise you need. Let's tackle the SEO challenges together and drive your website towards success. Get in touch with us today!