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Erfolgreich den Canonical Tag einsetzen

Better rankings through the correct use of the Canonical tag

Search engine optimization with the Canonical tag: How to bring your website forward in Google!

Have you heard of Canonical Tag? If not, then it’s time to look at its importance in search engine optimisation. The following article will give you an overview of the use and advantages of the Canonical tag for your website. You will then gain insight into the importance of cross-domain Canonical tags for your offpage optimization.

What’s Canonical Tag

How do I use the Canonical tag correctly?

Ranking advantage through Canonical tags – What do Canonical tags have to do with SEO?

How does the search engine crawler treat the Canonical tag?

Is it mandatory to use the Canonical tag even if you do not have duplicate content?

Best Practices to Canonical Tags from SEO Bavaria

Ranking with the Canonical-Tag

What is Canonical Tag?

The Canonical tag (alternatively: Canonical attribute, Canonical link) is a link element that you can place in the head area of your page. It informs search engines where the original content is located. Search engines like Google have taken up the challenge of different URLs with identical content. If the search engine finds duplicates, pages are often punished and if this is avoided, only one version is kept in the index. Here the link element Canonical-Tag helps to control which version is the original and should be indexed.

Several URL versions can be created for online shops, for example, if filter options are offered here. Alternatively, it often makes sense to make a URL accessible via several click paths, which in turn can lead to different URL versions. Since these URLs provide identical content, only one version should be included in the index. With the Canonical tag you as the website operator can determine which.

Tip: note that even small changes in URL spelling are considered individual URLS by search engines. For example, crawlers will look at the following seemingly identical URLs as individual URLs:

  • https://www.seo-bavaria.de/ranken-mit-canonical/
  • https://www.seo-bavaria.de/ranken-mit-canonical
  • https://www.seo-bavaria.de/ranken-mit-canonical.pdf
  • https://seo-bavaria.de/ranken-mit-canonical/
  • http://www.seo-bavaria.de/Ranken-mit-canonical/
  • https://www.seo-bavaria.de/Ranken-mit-canonical/

How do I use the Canonical tag correctly?

As already mentioned, the Canonical attribute is placed in the head area of the web page. If it is wrongly integrated into the body it will not be evaluated by search engines.

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“http://www.domain.de/“/>

</head>

To illustrate this, we will consider the following two URLs with identical content:

Seite 1: http://www.beispielseite.de/seite-1 (Original)

Seite 2: http://www.beispielseite.de/seite-2

In this case, you should move the Canonical element from page 2 to page 1 and refer to the original version. You should refer to the exact URL here, not to the domain or a parent directory. You can do this by placing the following link in the head area of page 2:

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“http://www.beispielseite.de/seite-1“ />

Afterwards you should make sure that the original version (page 1) also points to itself by adding the following link attribute to page 1:

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“http://www.beispielseite.de/seite-1“ />

By the way: when changing your website from http to https you have to change the canonical tag too! You can find more information on how to use Canonical tags and HTTPS in our Best Practices.

Ranking advantage through Canonical tags – what do Canonical tags have to do with SEO?

1. Indexing

Duplicate content (DC) can seriously affect the ranking of your website in search results. DC generally refers to the availability of very similar to the same content on different URLs. Depending on the website and industry, it is often not possible to completely prevent the creation of duplicate content. In this case, SEOs like to use the Canonical tag to prevent ranking losses due to duplicate content. Canonical tags help to keep internal duplicates out of the index. Internal duplicates are created faster than expected.

Examples of common internal duplicates:

  • www or https-variant
  • URL/ vs. URL
  • Upper- and lowercase URLs
  • /index
  • Session IDs
  • print variants
  • domain.de & news.domain.de
  • Show on desktop for mobile versions

2. Optimization of keyword relevance

By bundling the relevance of different URLs into a single indexed URL, you as a website operator can increase your relevance to a keyword. Because your users only access your site via one URL variant from the Google search results, the user data for this URL is bundled. If there are still several URL versions, the accesses will be distributed among the different URLs and the keyword relevance and the click rate per URL will decrease for the keyword.

3. Offpage Optimization

The same phenomenon is also noticeable in the offpage area of your SEO success. The different indexed URL variants could also be linked individually from external domains. Here the linkjuice (the link force) for this content would be split between several URLs. By using the Canonical tag, you can concentrate the link force on one variant. Following this article you have the possibility to use the Canonical tag for your offpage campaign. Climbing with the Canonical tag

Please note that links to URLs marked as duplicates are not indexed and are therefore ineffective.

How does the search engine crawler treat the Canonical tag?

The Canonical tag is not treated like a backlink by search engines, but rather like a 301 redirect. In contrast to a 301 redirection, the Canonical tag offers the option to keep multiple instances of a content. As already mentioned, the link popularity of different URLs can be concentrated on one standard URL, which is supported by all search engines. Not only the linkjuice but also social signals can be transmitted in this way.

Use case: Ranken 3 of your URLs on the 2nd or 3rd page of the search results, it might make sense to collect all texts on one URL and forward the other two variants. In this way you collect the relevance and the external signals. If you want the two to remain the target pages of external visitors, such as social media sites, you can work with the Canonical tag. In this case, the internal signals for your new “original” are also amplified.

Be aware that the relevance rating of the search engines concentrates on this URL, so you as a website operator should make sure that this URL version is always accessible to your users and optimized for search engines. In addition, the Canonical tag should not be combined with “noindex”, “disallow” or “nofollow” tags. The “disallow” prevents the page from being crawled and the “noindex” prevents the search engine from noticing the Canonical element.

But as is so often the case, Google regards the reference to the original version by Canonical tag as a suggestion and reserves the right to determine the most relevant version at its own discretion.

Often the content evaluation of the search engines takes place according to the principle “First Come First Serve”, therefore we recommend, as an SEO agency with many years of practical experience in the areas Onpage and Offpage, the delayed publication of duplicates with the help of the Canonical Tag.

Tip: First publish the original, then the duplicate!

Is it mandatory to use the Canonical tag even if there is no duplicate content?

The use of the Canonical tag without duplicate content on your own site is not mandatory. As an online marketing agency with many years of experience in the field of search engine optimization, we recommend the use of Canonical tags even for unique content on your website. With a Canonical tag for each URL that points to itself, you protect yourself against content theft. If this attribute is missing on your website, an external website could publish your content and declare the copied version to be the “original URL” via a Canonical tag and thus profit from your performance indicators, social signals and backlinks. If this page is stronger than yours in the SEO metrics, Google will also assign all linkjuice on your page to the alleged original, i.e. the content thief.

Because Google reserves the right to evaluate at its sole discretion, it is critical that your site is online and indexed best weeks before the copy.

Best Practices zu kanonischen Tags von SEO Bayern

1. Handling Session IDs

Without Session IDs: https://domain.de/produkt/

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/produkt/“ />

</head>

With Session IDs: https://domain.de/produkt?sessionid=12345

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/produkt/“ />

</head>

2. Prever HTTPS

Requirements:

  • Valid SSL Certificate
  • Include correct variant in sitemap
  • Hreflang must also refer correct variant

http variant points to the preferred https variant: http://domain.de/shop/

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

https points to itself: https://domain.de/shop/

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

3. Caution with Canonical Tags and Related Pages

Mehrseitige Artikel:

Here you should use a pagination with rel=”next”, rel=”prev”, and not a Canonical tag! (Except for collect pages: Single pages then point to the collection page by Canonical tag)

Multipage shop categories:

It is best to use rel=”next”, rel=”prev” and robots=”noindex, follow” on following pages, no Canonical tag.

4. Common Errors with Canonical Tags

Caution: Incorrectly implemented Canonical attributes can significantly damage the ranking of your website. If you are unsure how to integrate Canonical tags correctly, it is better to contact an experienced SEO agency for Onpage Optimization so that you do not affect your ranking.

Double Canonical tags do not grip:

Wrong:

http://domain.de/shop/

 

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/shop/“ />

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“http://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

Wrong:

https://domain.de/shop/

 

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/shop/“ />

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“http://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

Here you can create the content that is used within the module.

Right:

http://domain.de/shop/

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

Right:

https://domain.de/shop/

 

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=“https://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

Refer to full URL, no abbreviations

Wrong:

http://domain.de/shop/

 

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=„/shop/“ />

</head>

Right:

http://domain.de/shop/

<head>

<link rel=“canonical“ href=„ http://domain.de/shop/“ />

</head>

Ranking with the Canonical Tag

During the Moz SEO Quizz the question arose whether a Canonical is the same as a backlink. Of course it is not the same, so I said “no” and answered the question correctly. But I asked myself how a cross-domain canonical tag could have an effect. We don’t know that the effect of such an award has already been tested.

My thesis is: Canonicals transfer Linkjuice and Trust for the content, maybe even stronger than a backlink.

Kann Kopierter Inhalt mit einem Canonical meine Rankings noch verbessern?
Does it look like a link or even stronger?

What makes you think that?
I’ve been experimenting!

My side, with which I sometimes experiment a little, allows the assumption.

The requirements:

The visibility of the domain has been near zero for months. Even before that there were no rankins worth mentioning. Link building or content development was not carried out, all effects can therefore be attributed to this measure. On this domain there is, among other things, a rather old contribution (approx. 4 years), which has not been changed since then and which has never had rankings.

The Test

This article has recently been revised. It is not as long as it is today. During the revision, the size increased only marginally. The content is unique but not fundamentally revolutionary. You can find a lot of comparable content on the net. In the same week this content was additionally published on an external domain, which is much stronger than my experimental site. The canonical article was then advertised with mailings and probably had some traffic. There was no visible link to the original article of the experimental site, only a canonical tag in the source code. Also the number of visitors on the original article did not increase.

Follow the canonical tag:

After 3 weeks the visibility of the domain and the article started to increase (see Sistrix Visibility).

The article wins the race, it rises and rises. With new keywords it started in the Top 100 and reached the Top 10, while it had never ranked before the installation of the Canonical tag.

Question:

The question arises whether one would be immune from the consequences of bad and spammy pages with the Canonical tag, because it is likely that canonical references to the Penguin Filter fall through the grid. But since we don’t use bad links and methods, we won’t go any further.

Instructions for clean rebuilding:

To apply the Canonical tag: First of all you need an article that is at least so good that someone wants to install it. The reputation of the author often doesn’t hurt to find willing publishers. If it is appropriate, you could also work with a renowned guest author. Then offer the article to strong sites – in my experience, article directories don’t accept the integration of a Canonical tag. In addition, the site should not be a content centrifuge, but should have a good reputation.

You should then only make it clear to the publisher that content copies can damage his ranking. Using the Canonical tag creates a win-win-win situation for everyone involved:

1. More users can better find the content on an additional, stronger page.

2. The domain owner has more content and WITHOUT having to suffer his rankings.

3. and you as the originator are better entwined.

It is best to use the Canonical tag on both sides, so not only on the copy of an external (and strong) domain, but also on your original page. The address used in the Canonical tag does not point to the domain or homepage, but to the exact URL:

The original page thus points to itself. To make the whole thing work, you have to link the ranked post to pages of your domain that are relevant to the topic and should also be promoted in the search results.

Which of you has experience on this subject?

Update 05.05.2015: Nothing was changed anymore, neither the content nor internal links nor external links were added, but the page continues to increase in visibility.

Update 09.01.2017: Nothing has been changed anymore, the content can now be described as insufficient and outdated, no more external links have been set and the Canonical tag has now disappeared. After two years he had inherited all his link power and the ranking didn’t suffer.

Do you want to benefit from the advantages of Canonical tags set correctly and protect your own content from duplicates on other websites?
We will be happy to advise you and give you an initial assessment free of charge.
Simply give us a call or send us an e-mail.
Phone: +49 851 966090-50
Mail: info@seo-bavaria.de
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