What Is A Canonical Tag?

If you have a website it is more than likely someone would have mentioned canonical tags in passing or directly to you. This article explains what it is and exactly why it is important you get this right.

What is it?
Putting it in a simple form, the canonical tag is an HTML tag inserted into the header area of your website to indicate to search engines like Google that similar URL's are indeed the same page.
When you look at this example here:

  • https://www.pebbleltd.co.uk/services/web-design
  • https://www.pebbleltd.co.uk/services/web-design?hello-world

These URL's look very different right? But they are actually exactly the same page, search engines will look at these pages and rank them accordingly, therefore, we need to add a canonical tag to highlight which is the primary URL, by adding the canonical tag below, this tells the search engine to use this single URL and not to consider others.

<link rel="canonical" href="https:⁄⁄www.pebbleltd.co.uk⁄services⁄web-design" ⁄>

Why Use It, Is It That Important?
Oh yes, one thing you never want on your website is duplicate content and why would you have multiple pages with the same content anyway? In the Pebble office, we were trying to come up with an analogy of the duplicate content issue. So here goes...

If you imagine Google as a visitor coming to your house for dinner and you have asked him to bring some friends with him as well. You give him the address to visit your house and come in via the red door. However, he turns up at the address but you have 3 red doors out front, which one does he choose? Also, which red door did he tell his friends to enter into?

You got it right, he doesn't know, he is going to penalise you for having multiple doors of the same (duplicate content) and he will not recommend that his friends come to your house (move you up in his search rankings).

Have a cheeky look at the source code on your web page and if you have a canonical tag in place then you are in the right place, if not, speak to your web developer, you will notice positive changes in your search results. If you are still a little confused you can reach out to us at Pebble on 01733 902070 or email us via our contact form.