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Finally, its time to spread the word! Search engines have got their act together and have given us a tag to help deal with duplicate content. This is something that people have been waiting on for years and now Google, Yahoo! And MSN have got on board and given us a Canonical URL tag.

Building a profitable website is difficult enough without having to deal with the constant worry of duplicate content issues. There are a large number of reasons as to why duplicated pages may appear on a website and probably most of us have had to deal with this at one time or another (especially if you run an ecommerce site). Developers should be spending more time on building a better user experience and should now spend less time dealing with how identical pages are interpreted. It’s about time that the guessing games stop with search engines trying to figure out which page should be considered the original source and its way over due that they are now giving us the option of helping them out with this issue.

Now granted in the past there have always been ways to deal with duplicate content problems. Whether it was through using a robots.txt file or using 301 redirects but it’s nice to see a tag specifically for the purpose of telling search engines the preferred URL.

Most of us know whether or not we have a duplicate content problem, but if you are unsure try running Xenu link sleuth on your site. By looking at a finished report you should get a pretty good idea whether you might be facing this issue.

The new Canonical tag is definitely a step in the right direction. With XML Sitemaps, Google Webmaster tools and now this, search engines are continuing to evolve and are giving developers a better ability to tell them how to index their website properly.

Without further ado, here is an example of using the Canonical URL tag:

Preferred Source:

Duplicated Page:

Canonical Tag to be placed in theof the duplicated page:

Things to consider when using the new tag

  • It should be considered a hint for search engines. It’s not the same as a robots.txt rule.
  • When possible it’s always better to use correct URL structure with only one page of content or use a 301 redirect.
  • Can only be used within the domain. Using it across different domains won’t work.
  • Works with relative URLs but absolute URLs are recommended
  • It can work to resolve canonical issues between ‘http’ and ‘https’ pages.
  • It can be used within subdomains of the same site.
  • Make sure your XML sitemap has a list of canonical URL’s as this way you’re giving search engines two hints.


And if you’re using WordPress, Magneto, or Drupal, Yoast has created some great plug-ins to smooth out this process.

For WordPress  For Magneto  For Drupal


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