Complete Guide To Canonical URLs

What Is A Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag (rel="canonical") is an HTML element used to prevent duplicate content issues on your website. When multiple URLs have similar or identical content, search engines might get confused about which URL to index and rank. The canonical tag helps you specify the “preferred” version of a page, ensuring that search engines give credit to the correct URL, thereby consolidating ranking signals and avoiding duplicate content penalties.

In simple words, A canonical tag, also known as a canonical link or “rel canonical,” is an HTML tag that tells search engines which URL is the original, definitive version of a page. Canonical tags are used in SEO to help search engines index the correct URL and avoid duplicate content.

How Does the Canonical Tag Work?

When a search engine crawls your site, it uses the canonical tag to understand which version of a page you consider the primary one. For example, if you have the same article accessible via different URLs due to sorting parameters or session IDs, you can use a canonical tag to tell search engines which URL should be indexed.

Here’s an example of a canonical tag in the HTML <head> section:

htmlCopy code<link rel="canonical" href="" />

Importance of Canonical Tags

  1. Prevents Duplicate Content Issues: By consolidating duplicate content, canonical tags help avoid penalties from search engines.
  2. Improves SEO: Ensures that link equity (ranking power) is passed to a single URL rather than being split among duplicates.
  3. Enhances User Experience: Users are more likely to find the most relevant page when searching, as the canonical tag helps in showing the preferred content.
  4. Simplifies URL Management: Helps manage the appearance of content across different URLs and platforms, making content management more efficient.

How to Apply Canonical Tags in a WordPress Website

Implementing canonical tags in WordPress can be done using plugins or by manually editing your theme’s files.

Using Plugins

  1. Yoast SEO:
    • Install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin.
    • Go to the page or post where you want to set the canonical URL.
    • Scroll down to the Yoast SEO meta box.
    • Click on the “Advanced” tab.
    • Enter the canonical URL in the “Canonical URL” field.
  2. All in One SEO Pack:
    • Install and activate the All in One SEO Pack plugin.
    • Go to the page or post where you want to set the canonical URL.
    • Scroll down to the All in One SEO Pack meta box.
    • Enter the canonical URL in the “Canonical URL” field.

Manual Implementation

  1. Editing the Theme’s header.php File:
    • Access your theme’s header.php file via Appearance > Theme Editor.
    • Add the following code within the <head> section:phpCopy code<link rel="canonical" href="<?php echo get_permalink(); ?>" />
  2. Using the wp_head Hook:
    • Add the following code to your theme’s functions.php file:phpCopy codefunction add_canonical_tags() { if (is_single() || is_page()) { echo '<link rel="canonical" href="' . get_permalink() . '" />' . "\n"; } } add_action('wp_head', 'add_canonical_tags');

This code ensures that canonical tags are dynamically added to each page and post, pointing to their respective URLs.


Canonical tags are essential for maintaining a clean, efficient, and SEO-friendly website. They help search engines understand your content better and ensure that your site avoids duplicate content issues. Implementing canonical tags in WordPress can be straightforward with the right plugins or a bit of custom coding. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your site is optimized for search engines and provides the best possible user experience.

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