Canonical Tag SEO | Solve Duplicate Content Issue With URL Canonicalization

  • May 31, 2020
  • Nirlep Patel
  • 6 min read

Since ages, Search engines like Google have been facing several issues and ‘duplicate content issue’ is one of them. So, duplicate content occurs when similar content appears at multiple URLs on the web. Owing to this search engines do not know which URL needs to appear in the search results.

Though this can somehow damage the grade of a webpage and then the issue will get worse only when they involve the different versions of the same content. So, in this blog, you will understand how to find a solution to these concerns. For this, let us understand a few terms.

What is The URL Canonicalization?

URL Canonicalization is the apt process of deciding an ultimate version of a URL. It then includes adding a canonical tag on all the remaining pages that will link back to the ultimate page.

What is The Canonical Tag in SEO?

The canonical tag also termed as “rel canonical”. Basically, a canonical tag is an HTML tag that tells search engines about the enclosed URL whether it is an original or a definitive version of the page.

Talking about its structure, the tag can be seen in the <head> section of the page and defined as follows:

<link rel=”canonical” href=””>

However, practically, the canonical tag is a brilliant way to tell Google page which page you want to make appear in the search results.

It is broadly acclaimed that humans think of pages that have the same structure and have similar content as all one page. However, search engines like Google have a distinct way of working.

For them, different URLs are different pages, though their purpose is the same. For instance, consider the following example. For Google, these URLs are distinctive pages:


Therefore, you’ve received five single copies of your homepage, though everyone will see just one page. Such a situation will make you suffer through some issues that are related to duplicate content.

What is Duplicate Content?

It defines duplicate content as the content available on several URLs on the website. As more than one URL shows the same content, search engines get confused about which URL to list higher in the search results. Hence, there is a possibility that you will rank both URLs lower while giving high preference to other webpages.

Let’s Move Ahead

We have already seen the fact that various URLs addressing the same content is an actual problem. But we do not have to worry as we can solve easily it. A person who is working at a publication will usually be able to tell you easily what should be the correct URL for a certain article.

But, if you are asking the same question to different people in one company, then there is a high probability that you will get the same answer. This is a problem that needs to take notice of because there can only be one URL which will be indeed the perfect and correct URL.

This ‘correct’ URL for a particular part of the content is the Canonical URL by the search engines like Google.

Recognizing Duplicate Content Issues

There can be a possibility that you might not know whether you have a duplicate content issue on your site or having the same issue with your content! However, using Google is one of the easiest ways to detect duplicate content. How? Let’s see.

So, there are a number of search operators that can be very helpful in these situations. Suppose you wish to find all the URLs on your site that contain your keyword BBC article, then you need to type the following search expression into Google- intitle:”Keyword BBC”

Consequently, Google will show you every page on that includes the specific keyword. The more accurate you make the ‘intitle’ section of the issues, the easier it will be to pick up the duplicate content. However, you can use the same method to identify duplicate content across the internet. If the full title of your article was ‘Keyword BBC – It is raining today’, then you would search-

intitle:”Keyword BBC – It is raining today”

After this, Google would give you all websites that will match the title. It is valuable to even search for a couple of broad sentences from your article, as some people might change the title completely.

While sometimes, when you search like this, then Google may display a notice on the last page of SERPs. So, it could be a sign that Google is already identifying the results. But it still not considered a good practice.

Hence, it is important to click the link and search for all other results to check if you could resolve the issue.

What Are The Hands-On Solutions For Duplicate Content?

Follow Some Rules. So, once you have decided a specific URL is the canonical URL for your content, and then you have to start a process of canonicalization as mentioned at the start of the blog.

This means we have to inform or update search engines about the canonical version of a page and let them find it as fast as possible. However, there are four methods of solving the problem:

  • No duplicate content creation
  • Readdressing duplicate content to the canonical URL
  • Adding a canonical link element to the duplicate page
  • Addition of an HTML link from the duplicate page to the canonical page

Evading Duplicate Content

These are very simple fixes to the content-related issues.

  • Check any Session ID’s in your URLs because these can often just need to disable in your system’s settings and you should just use a print style sheet.
  • You should just deactivate the comment pagination feature on almost sites.
  • Mostly, instead of parameter-based campaign tracking, use hashtags based campaign tracking.

Remember, the goal must be to avoid duplicate content from appearing overall. Because it is the best solution to the concern.

Redirecting Duplicate Content URLs

Sometimes, it is impossible to completely pause the system you’re using from creating wrong URLs for content. But sometimes it is possible to redirect them. So, if this isn’t logical to you and seems to be irrelevant then, remember the same things while talking to your developers.

Suppose you get rid of some duplicate content issues, please make sure that you redirect all the old duplicate content URLs to the proper canonical URLs.

Make Use Of Canonical Link Element

It is possible that you do not wish to and also you cannot get free of a duplicate version of an article, though you know that it’s the wrong URL. So, to solve this issue, Google has introduced the canonical link element. It is written in the <head> part of your site-

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

However, in the href section of the canonical link, you keep the correct canonical URL for your article or content. Whenever a search engine supporting canonical catches this link element, it will perform a soft 301 redirect.

This will transfer most of the link value grouped by that page to your canonical page. So, if you can perform a 301 redirect, that would be highly preferable.

Also, Link back to the original content

If the above solutions do not work for you then possibly this is happening because you cannot control the <head> section of the site where your content appears on.

Hence, adding a link back to the original article on top or below of the article is a great thought. Though, you might wish to do this in RSS feed with the help of adding a link back to the article.

However, some will filter that link out, but others might leave it in. Thus, if Google meets several links that will point to your original article then it will rectify that is the actual canonical version.

Duplicate Content Must Be Fixed!

Duplicacy in the content happens everywhere and is common. However, this is something you need to constantly check-in for. But remember that it is resolvable, and the rewards can be a handful.

Also, your quality content could increase your ranking as well with just removing duplicate content from your site. Amazing, isn’t it?

So, once you understand canonical tags, then using them is not a complicated task. If you are pursuing best practices, then you can easily use the canonical tag to keep your website optimized.

Nirlep Patel
I am an internet entrepreneur and also the Co-Founder of GBIM Technologies, India’s fastest growing internet marketing company. My forte lies in actively lending technical expertise in Search Engine Optimisation, SEM Google AdWords, SMM. Spanning about 14 years of focus on Digital Marketing, GBIM today has become one of the greatest digital marketing company. This could have been possible only because of the trust which our clients have on us, and the quality services we have delivered to them I have always believed that more is lost from indecision than wrong decisions and as a result, we have managed to create an environment where people are encouraged to challenge process and innovate. This culture has cultivated a highly motivated team with an open approach where anyone can share their thoughts and ideas freely.
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