If you’re running a website, it’s important to make sure all of your pages are optimized for search engines. One way of doing this is by using canonical tags. Canonical tags tell search engines which version of a page is the “true” or “master” version.
If you have canonical tag errors on your site, it can cause problems with your search engine optimization (SEO). In this post, we’ll explain some common canonical tag errors and help you fix them.
What is a Canonical Tag?
A canonical tag (“rel canonical” tag) is an HTML element that tells search engines which version of a page is the original or “canonical” version.
For example, let’s say you have a blog post that exists in two places:
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.
You can also use the canonical tag to point search engines to the original version of a page that has been duplicated. If you have two pages with similar content:
The canonical tag tells search engines that the first page is the original, and they should index that page.
Now let’s take a look at some common canonical tag issues and show you how to fix them.
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:
- Make sure your rel=canonical tags are set up properly.
- 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.
To fix this, you’ll need to find the non-canonical URL in your sitemap and remove it. You can then 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.
To fix this 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.
You can fix this issue by simply adding canonical tags to all your pages. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to automatically add canonical tags to your pages.