Rel=Canonical helps search engines determine the canonical copy (master copy) of a document on the Internet while indexing pages. If you run a website where the content is likely to be duplicated, implementing Rel=Canonical is particularly important.
However, it is an important consideration for all website owners since search engines often deliver outdated pages after making the wrong determination of which documents are canonical. You will want to work closely with your web development firm to implement Rel=Canonical.
Implementing Rel=Canonical can be as simple as modifying the meta data in the HEAD element of your site’s documents. Go to each page of your site that is not canonical and insert the following HTML into near the top of the HEAD element:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”URL of the canonical page”>
Search engines use the canonical meta data to determine which page to index as the master copy each time they perform an update. Search results are delivered based on pages they believe to be canonical.
It’s important to remember that the meta data you include is more like a hint to search engines than something they will automatically follow. Therefore, it’s always best to work with your web development firm when implementing Rel=Canonical to ensure you’ve done everything you can to help search engines deliver the most up-to-date pages for your site.
Rel=Canonical is ideal for sites with dynamic URLs, eCommerce sites with product lists and syndicated content. For sites with dynamic URLs, you can use Re=Canonical to indicate the desired URL format to search engines. On eCommerce sites with product lists, you can use Rel=Canonical to help prevent customer changes in sorting criteria from being indexed. With syndicated content, you can implement Rel=Canonical to point to the original source.
When going through your site with a web developer, you may find that you have duplicate or very similar pages. While you would want to implement Rel=Canonical on these pages, you may decide to make them more unique instead. Ultimately, you want to have unique content throughout your website. You might take this opportunity to improve your site’s content.