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The Purpose of the “rel-canonical” Tag in SEO

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), there are numerous techniques and strategies that website owners employ to improve their rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs). One such technique is the use of the “rel-canonical” tag. In this article, we will explore the purpose of the “rel-canonical” tag in SEO and how it can benefit website owners in their quest for better visibility and organic traffic.

What is the “rel-canonical” tag?

The “rel-canonical” tag is an HTML element that is used to indicate the preferred version of a webpage when there are multiple versions of the same content available. It helps search engines understand which version of a page should be considered as the authoritative or primary version. By specifying the canonical URL, website owners can avoid issues related to duplicate content and ensure that search engines index and rank the desired version of their webpages.

Why is the “rel-canonical” tag important for SEO?

Implementing the “rel-canonical” tag correctly can have several benefits for SEO:

  • Avoiding duplicate content penalties: When search engines encounter multiple versions of the same content, they may penalize websites for duplicate content. By using the “rel-canonical” tag, website owners can consolidate the ranking signals for their content and avoid any penalties.
  • Consolidating link equity: When different versions of a webpage exist, the links pointing to those versions may get divided, diluting the overall link equity. By specifying the canonical URL, website owners can consolidate the link equity to a single version, thereby increasing its chances of ranking higher in search results.
  • Improving crawl efficiency: Search engine crawlers have limited resources, and crawling multiple versions of the same content can waste those resources. By using the “rel-canonical” tag, website owners can guide crawlers to the preferred version, ensuring that their resources are utilized efficiently.

How to implement the “rel-canonical” tag?

Implementing the “rel-canonical” tag requires adding a specific HTML element to the head section of the webpage. Here’s an example:

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

In the above example, the “href” attribute specifies the URL of the preferred version of the webpage. It is important to note that the canonical URL should be an absolute URL and not a relative one.

Case Study: Impact of “rel-canonical” tag on organic traffic

To understand the impact of implementing the “rel-canonical” tag, let’s consider a case study. Company XYZ had multiple versions of their product pages due to different sorting options and filters. As a result, search engines were indexing and ranking these different versions, leading to duplicate content issues and a fragmented link profile.

After implementing the “rel-canonical” tag correctly, specifying the preferred version of each product page, Company XYZ noticed significant improvements in their organic traffic. The consolidated link equity and the elimination of duplicate content penalties resulted in higher rankings for their preferred versions, leading to increased visibility and organic traffic.


The “rel-canonical” tag plays a crucial role in SEO by indicating the preferred version of a webpage to search engines. By implementing this tag correctly, website owners can avoid duplicate content penalties, consolidate link equity, and improve crawl efficiency. It is important to understand the purpose and benefits of the “rel-canonical” tag to ensure that websites are optimized for better visibility and organic traffic.

So, if you want to enhance your SEO efforts and ensure that search engines understand the preferred version of your webpages, don’t forget to implement the “rel-canonical” tag correctly!

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