Canonical URLs

What you might have missed
JUST IN: Google confirms republishing content isn't good for your rankings.

A client of mine once had two canonical URLs on every page. None of them were ok.

On top of this, as I was looking for the perfect examples for this newsletter I realized that many websites [you’ll find most of them beyond the first three SERP pages] don’t even have a defined canonical URL.

So I take it as my duty to dive into what a good canonical URL looks like.

There’s three best practices you could overlook when using canonical URLs:

1. Keep your code clean and place the canonical where it should be.

You don’t want to randomly insert your canonical URL. Its most appropriate place is next to all of the other meta details:

2. Only use absolute URLs.

I was horrified to find out some websites use relative URLs for their canonical links. I’m guessing it’s because this simplifies coding. So if you’re working with an agency that wants to rush things [this was the case for my client too], double check the canonical URLs on time.

SEOquake has the best description of why you want to stay away from relative URLs when setting your canonical links:

“If you do not define any of the URLs as canonical, each duplicate will be indexed by Google as a unique page.”

Further reading: Oh and, of course, NEVER use both absolute and relative URLs at the same time 🙄:

3. Always use canonical tags to link back to the original article when reposting content.

I have here a really bad example of a post on the Buffer blog that was originally published elsewhere. The canonical link on the Buffer post doesn’t lead to the original source. Problem is that not even the original article gives the canonical URL to the Buffer post. 

So you’ve got the same content with two different canonical URLs. On top of this, the article is also on LinkedIn. Both the Buffer blog and the LinkedIn post reference the original article at the start but still, this is super confusing to Google. When you search for a snippet from the article, you don’t get any of the Buffer or original post results unless you add an extra modifier:

For comparison, check out this post that correctly attributes the canonical to the original source.

As a last piece of advice, if you must by all means have someone repost your content, ask them to give you a canonical URL so Google knows you posted it first.
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Until next time,
Alexandra Cote

Some cool tools I found recently to try: P.S.: Reply "yes" if you'd like me to resend you a case study when you haven't opened it in the future.

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