The Canonical Tag is an extremely important concept to know for anyone who wants to get serious about SEO. The Canonical tag is a very simple, yet powerful concept that all SEO aware website owners should become familiar with no matter how much they know about code. Here’s an example of the Canonical tag in action.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://vuepointcreative.com/” />

That’s it! The canonical tag is very simple, but powerful.

How the Canonical Tag Works

The main purpose of the Canonical Tag is to fight duplicate content. Years ago, duplicate content was a technique used by spam sites to get higher in the search engines. They’d take multiple pages or entire websites, even of the exact same pages, and link them all together in an effort to improve their rank, and land on the first page. Google has made several improvements since then, and those techniques are no longer valid. Now copying an entire page from your website, or someone else’s website, will result in being blacklisted by Google and the other major search engines.

However, there are times when duplicate content is necessary for a website. This is where the Canonical Tag comes in. The Canonical Tag allows you to notify search engines that a page is a reposting of another page, allowing you to duplicate pages without being penalized by Google.

Let’s say you manage two websites that happen to need the same page, or even two pages on a single website that need to have different URLs, but the bulk of the content on the two pages are identical. If the two pages exist alongside each other, your websites could get hit in the search engines for duplicate content. Thankfully, it’s easy to tell Google and other search engines which page is the original. Simply add the canonical tag to the head of your website identifying the master page. If you know code, here’s the code:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://vuepointcreative.com/” />

If you don’t know code, but have a WordPress website, there are WordPress plugins that can manage this for you.

If you want to learn more about the details of the canonical tag, here’s an excellent 20 minute video from Google examines why the Canonical tag is so important. For even further reading, take a look at Google’s overview of the Canonical Tag.

How WordPress Handles the Canonical Tag for You

WordPress is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to SEO. One of the ways it does this is through it’s automatic inclusion of many tags including rel=”index”, rel=”prev”, rel=”next”, and rel=”canonical”. These tags are a perfect example of the minute levels of SEO making a world of difference.

WordPress automatically adds the Canonical Tag to all Pages, Posts, and Custom Posts Types. However, WordPress does not add the Canonical Tag to other pages like search results, categories, tags, archives and the like. This keeps you from running into duplicate content issues if you display full or partial post content on those pages. It also helps Google track which are the main pages with the substantial content.

Using this tag prevents you from getting blacklisted due to your own CMS, and in all actuality strengthens your SEO.

How You Can Fine Tune the Canonical Tag

Now here’s the part where you can actively get involved in helping your WordPress website’s seo via controlling the Canonical Tag. The All in One SEO Pack and the Canonical URL’s WordPress plugins allow you to specify a Canonical Tag for that page. S0- say you were reposting something from a different website, then you could use one of these WordPress plugins to specify a different URL in the Canonical Tag.

Cannonical Tag in WordPress

Conclusion

Once again, WordPress is a SEO Powerhouse. WordPress does more for your SEO than most people realize – and it does it all automatically. Little tips and tricks like this allow site managers to improve their site’s search engine rankings even further.