Canonical URL - What Is It And Why Should You Care

The article talks about the canonical URL and why you should use it if you cross-post your articles

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The canonical URL is vital when you publish the same content on multiple platforms. The problem is not many people are aware, and they hurt their SEO.

Before going into the nitty-gritty, let's start with an elementary example. Let's say you publish the same article on three platforms. Without a canonical URL, search engines see your content as duplicate, and it becomes confused:

  • which article should I index?
  • to which article should I sent traffic?
  • which one is the original article?

If you do not specify the canonical URL, search engines choose randomly between the links, and your pieces of content might compete between themselves. Also, if the search engines see duplicate content, it might penalise your website!

So, what? You might ask. If you have a preferred platform or a blog, you want the article from that platform/blog to get all the SEO! You do not want to split it with the other platforms or, even worse, get nothing. Thus, canonical URL helps with that!

What is a canonical URL?

A canonical link is an HTML element - rel=canonical - that specifies the original source of an article; or the preferred version of the article. The canonical URL tells search engines which version to index and send the SEO juice to.

A canonical URL looks as follows:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://catalins.tech/10-programming-project-ideas-for-beginners">

Of course, the href value is different for each case, depending on your article. Working with the same example, if I re-publish the same article on other blogging platforms, I need to use this URL - from my blog Copy of Cream, Pink and Purple Brushstrokes Musician Collection YouTube Thumbnail.png As a result, I avoid confusing search engines and getting penalised. It also ensures that I get all the SEO benefits.

How to use the canonical URL

Thankfully, you do not have to add all the HTML when you re-publish your content on other platforms.

Most platforms (if not all of them) need the original article URL, and they set the canonical tag automatically to the link provided by you.

chrome-capture (1).jpg

The figure above shows an example from Hashnode. You simply add the article URL and Hashnode (and other platforms) do the rest.

What do you need to remember

Before going, I want to reinforce the following ideas in your mind:

  1. If you publish the same piece of content on multiple platforms, use a canonical URL.
  2. The canonical link should be the link to your preferred platform (e.g. your blog).
  3. Canonical URLs help to consolidate page ranking to your preferred URL.
  4. Using a canonical, you get all the SEO benefits.
  5. If you do not use a canonical, search engines see duplicate content and might penalise you.

Further reading

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Braydon Coyer's photo

Great article, Catalin! To the point and provides a clear understanding!

Neha kumari's photo

Very interesting read. Didn't have a clue about this.

Andrew Baisden's photo

Great post SEO is an area that does not get talked about much.

Mahir Molai's photo

Cool! Also, thanks for saying Creative Tweet on my twitter when i shared a blog article of mine.

Apoorv Tyagi's photo

Really Informative article👏

Thanks for sharing!

Domhnall O' Hanlon's photo

Thanks for sharing this Catalin's Tech - hadn't realised the importance of this. The references you included are really useful too

maximillien kwizera's photo

very useful..

Raunaq Chawhan's photo

This is really a great piece of information. Thanks 👍