Canonical Tag Errors

When managing a website, optimizing all your pages for search engines is a crucial part of the process. One way of doing this is by using canonical tags. However, encountering canonical tag errors on your website can spell trouble for your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

In this article, we’ll delve into what canonical tags are, why they are vital for SEO, explore common issues related to canonical tags, and provide effective solutions to resolve them.

What is a Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag (“rel canonical” tag) is an HTML element that communicates to search engines which version of a page is the original or “canonical” version.

For instance, suppose you have a blog post accessible through two different URLs:


The canonical tag notifies search engines that the second version is the original and that they should index that version instead of the first one.

Canonical tags can also be used to guide search engines to the primary version of a duplicated page. If you have two pages with similar content:


The canonical tag indicates that the first page is the original and should be indexed.
The canonical tag plays a crucial role in optimizing a website for SEO, and it’s essential to be aware of potential mistakes. In the following section of this post, I will explain some of the most common errors related to the canonical tag.

Non-Canonical Page Receives Organic Traffic

When a non-canonical page (a page with a rel=”canonical” tag pointing to a different URL) receives organic traffic, it can cause several problems.

The first and most obvious problem is that the traffic is not being directed to the canonical URL, so the page with the canonical tag is not getting the credit it deserves. This can impact your site’s search engine rankings, as well as its click-through rate (CTR) and organic search traffic.

The second problem is that you may be inadvertently splitting your link equity between the two URLs. This can dilute the power of your links and make it harder for your canonical URL to rank well in search.

Fixing the Issue

If the non-canonical pages keep showing up on the SERP and receiving organic traffic, the search engine has disregarded your specified canonical page. Here’s how to fix this:

  • Ensure your rel=canonical tags are correctly set up.
  • Check the URL Inspection Tool and see if the canonical URL you’ve specified is considered canonical. 

In the Google Search Console, check if there are any warnings that Google has chosen a different page as canonical instead of the one you specified. Here are a few solutions if Google has ignored your canonical: 

  • Update the content to be more similar to better your chances of Google adhering to the canonical.
  • Change the canonical so that it points to a more relevant link. Sometimes, Google is right, and the URL it chose really should be the canonical.
  • Create a redirect. You can do this if your website is available with and without the www subdomain or through both HTTPS and HTTP.


Non-Canonical Page in Sitemap

If you have a non-canonical page in sitemap error, it means that your sitemap contains a URL that isn’t the canonical URL for that page. This can happen if you’ve accidentally included a non-canonical URL in your sitemap or if you have two pages with the same content but different URLs.

Fixing the Issue

  • Identify the non-canonical URL in your sitemap and remove it.
  • Resubmit your sitemap to Google through Search Console.


Canonical URL Has no Incoming Internal Links

If you see the error “Canonical URL has no incoming internal links,” it means that your canonical URL doesn’t have any links pointing to it from other pages on your site. This can occur if you’ve recently changed the canonical URL for a page or if you have two pages that have the same content but different URLs.

Fixing the Issue

  • Add links to your canonical URL from other pages on your site. You can do this by adding a link to the canonical URL in the body of the page or by adding a link in the navigation of your site.


Missing Canonical Tag

This error occurs if your pages don’t have canonical tags. Canonical tags are used to tell search engines what the preferred version of a page is, and they are essential for ensuring that your pages are properly indexed.

Fixing the Issue

  • Simply add canonical tags to all your pages. If you use WordPress, plugins like Yoast SEO can automate this process.

In conclusion, understanding and addressing canonical tag issues are integral to effective SEO practices. By resolving these issues, you ensure that search engines index and rank your content accurately, ultimately enhancing your website’s user experience and SEO performance.

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