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The phrase “canonical tag” often comes up in discussions around SEO, and likely more so when working with cross-functional partners like engineering, analytics, etc.
At first glance, it might seem a bit intimidating, especially if you are newer to the SEO space.
Great news, though: With this guide, we will walk through the fine print around what a canonical tag is, why they matter, what they look like in the wild, where they belong, and some nitty-gritty details.
What Is A Canonical?
First and foremost, before we even define a canonical tag, if there is one piece of information you take from this guide, let it be this: Canonical tags are not directives like Robots.txt file.
This means Google views canonical tags as a strong hint, but at the end of the day, it considers many signals and decides whether to honor them.
Now that we have the golden rule out of the way, let’s get into what it is!
The canonical tag came into play in 2009 as an HTML tag found in the source code to tell search engines which URL is the master version of a page. This can be leveraged to tell Google what page variation it should index for users.
A canonical tag is the HTML tag itself on a page, but the “canonical” – now, that’s a bit different.
There are two simple ways to define the canonical...
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