Canonical Tags on Incorrect Pages

If you have a website with numerous pages, then you’ve probably come across the term “canonical tags” before. For those who don’t know, canonical tags are used to specify the main or “canonical” URL for a given piece of content. Unfortunately, canonical tags are often misused or not used at all, leading to problems down the line. In this post, we’ll take a look at what canonical tags are, how they’re used, and how you can fix potential incorrect canonical tags on your own website.

What Are Canonical Tags?

A canonical tag, or “rel canonical,” is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using canonical tags prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. It is used to specify the preferred version of a web page.

Canonical tags are part of the HTML code for a web page and look like this:

 <link rel=”canonical” href=””/>

The code above specifies that the URL is the preferred version of that page.

Why Use Canonical Tags?

Canonical tags are used to solve a variety of duplicate content issues. When you have identical or very similar content on multiple website pages, canonical tags can be used to specify which page is the “master” or preferred version. This is helpful because it helps search engines index your content more accurately and can also help prevent problems caused by duplicate content.

Canonical Tags Pointing to Incorrect Pages

One common canonicalization mistake is when a canonical tag points to an incorrect page. This can happen if the URL in the canonical tag is typed incorrectly or if the page has been moved and the canonical tag was not updated.

If a canonical tag points to an incorrect page, it can cause various problems. For example, if the canonical tag points to a non-existent page, search engines cannot find your content. This can hurt your website’s SEO and may result in lower rankings and less traffic.

Another problem that can occur if canonical tags point to incorrect pages is that your website’s users may be directed to a page that does not exist. This can cause confusion and may result in a poor user experience.

These are some examples of incorrect canonical tags:

  • Canonical tag points to a 4xx page – an error page that indicates that the requested resource does not exist. This can happen for various reasons, such as a mistyped URL or a broken link. You should update these tags to point to relevant, valid pages.
  • Canonical tag points to 5xx pages. A 5xx error indicates that the server cannot process the request for some reason. Update the tag to point to the correct page.
  • Canonical tag points to redirects – pages that redirect to other pages. Update the canonical tag to point to the final destination URL
  • Canonical tag points from HTTPS to HTTP. Replace HTTP pages with pages with the HTTPS protocol.

Avoiding Canonicalization Mistakes

To avoid canonicalization mistakes, carefully check the URL in your canonical tags. Make sure the URL is typed correctly and points to an existing page on your website. It’s also a good idea to periodically check your canonical tags to ensure they haven’t been changed or deleted.

If you move a page on your website, update the canonical tag to point to the new URL. This ensures that search engines and users can find your content.

How to Fix Incorrect Canonical Tags

If you have incorrect canonical tags on your website, you should fix them as soon as possible. Do this by updating the canonical tags to point to the correct pages on your website. Ensure your website’s pages are accessible and return the correct status codes. In addition, check your website’s redirects to ensure they are pointing to the correct pages.

Once you have updated your canonical tags, you should then resubmit your website to search engines so that they can re-index it and its pages.

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