How to Fix Alternate Pages with Proper Canonical Tag
As a website owner or webmaster, it’s essential to understand the importance of using proper canonical tags. In particular, fixing alternate pages with the proper canonical tag is crucial for improving your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). In this article, we’ll cover what alternate pages are, why they can cause issues for your website’s SEO, and how to fix them with the proper canonical tag.
What are Alternate Pages?
Alternate pages are multiple versions of a web page that have similar or identical content but different URLs. For example, a product page may have alternate pages with different URLs based on various parameters such as color, size, or price. These alternate pages may also be created due to content syndication or translation.
Why Can Alternate Pages Cause Issues for SEO?
Alternate pages can cause several issues for your website’s SEO, such as:
- Duplicate content issues: When multiple pages have similar or identical content, search engines may have difficulty determining which page to rank higher, potentially leading to lower search engine rankings.
- Crawling and indexing issues: Search engines may waste their resources crawling and indexing alternate pages instead of your primary page, which may impact your website’s crawl budget and search engine rankings.
- Splitting link equity: When link equity is split between alternate pages, it may impact your website’s search engine rankings.
How to Identify Alternate Pages
To identify alternate pages, you can use several tools such as Google Search Console, site crawlers like Screaming Frog, or third-party tools like SEMrush. These tools can identify pages with duplicate content, duplicate title tags or meta descriptions, or pages with similar content but different URLs.
Fixing Alternate Pages with Proper Canonical Tags
A canonical tag is an HTML tag that tells search engines which page is the preferred version of a web page with duplicate or similar content. Here are the steps to fix alternate pages with proper canonical tags:
Step 1: Choose the Preferred URL
Before adding a canonical tag, you need to choose the preferred URL that search engines should consider as the primary page. In most cases, the preferred URL is the one with the most link equity, but you can also choose based on other factors such as user experience or content.
Step 2: Add the Canonical Tag
Once you’ve chosen the preferred URL, you need to add a canonical tag to the alternate pages to point to the preferred URL. The canonical tag should be added to the head section of the HTML code of the alternate pages, and it should contain the preferred URL as its attribute.
For example, if you want to add a canonical tag to an alternate page with the URL https://example.com/product/?color=red, and you want to point it to the preferred URL https://example.com/product/, you should add the following code to the head section of the
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/product/" />
Step 3: Test and Verify the Canonical Tag
After adding the canonical tag, you need to test and verify that it’s working correctly. You can use tools like Google Search Console or third-party tools like Canonical Checker to check if the canonical tag is implemented correctly and if there are
Best Practices for Canonical Tags:
- Use Canonical Tags for Similar Pages: It is essential to use canonical tags for similar pages on your website. For example, if you have multiple pages with the same content, use a canonical tag to indicate the original source.
- Canonicalize URLs with UTM Parameters: When tracking URLs with UTM parameters, it’s best to canonicalize the original URL to prevent search engines from viewing them as separate pages.
- Use Absolute URLs: Always use absolute URLs for canonical tags instead of relative URLs, as they provide better clarity for search engines.
- Use Canonical Tags on All Versions of a Page: To ensure the correct page is indexed, use canonical tags on all versions of a page, including HTTP and HTTPS versions.
- Ensure Consistency with Rel=Canonical and Canonical Tags: If you are using both rel=canonical and canonical tags on your website, ensure that they are consistent with each other and point to the same page.
Canonical tags are an essential aspect of on-page SEO, and they can help prevent duplicate content issues and improve your website’s ranking. By following the best practices mentioned above, you can ensure that your canonical tags are implemented correctly and that search engines can identify the original source of your content.
What is a canonical tag, and how does it work?
A canonical tag is an HTML tag that tells search engines the preferred version of a web page. When multiple pages have the same content, using canonical tags can prevent duplicate content issues and help improve search engine rankings.
What happens if I don’t use canonical tags?
If you don’t use canonical tags, search engines may index multiple versions of your page, which can cause duplicate content issues and harm your website’s ranking.
Can canonical tags be used for external links?
No, canonical tags are only used for internal links. If you want to indicate the preferred version of an external link, you can use rel=canonical.
How do I implement canonical tags on my website?
You can implement canonical tags by adding the following code to the header section of your web pages:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://example.com/original-page”>
Replace “https://example.com/original-page” with the URL of the preferred version of your page.
Can I use canonical tags for pages with different content?
No, canonical tags should only be used for pages with identical or very similar content. If the pages have different content, you should not use canonical tags.
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