When you have identical or near-identical pages on multiple URLs, canonical tags communicate to search engines which page to rank by pointing the tag(s) from the duplicates to the original.
- Do ensure that the canonical tag points from the duplicate pages to the original page.
- Do consider using canonical tags when it makes sense to indicate the preferred version to search engines.
- Do use absolute URLs in canonical tags to help search engines recognize them.
- Do monitor Google Search Console for reports of canonical tag overrides and fix duplication issues promptly.
- Don’t rely solely on canonical tags to correct duplicate content issues; it’s just a hint to search engines.
- Don’t use canonical tags when there is no duplicate content; they are meant for handling duplicate content situations.
- Don’t assume that Google will always follow the canonical tag; Google may prioritize other signals in some cases.
- Don’t misuse canonical tags to redirect link equity from one page to another if there’s no duplicate content.
- Don’t overlook other signals like internal links, XML sitemaps, encryption, and content quality, which can influence search engines’ choice of the canonical URL.
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