There are tens of thousands of websites on the Internet: it is common to find sites with the same content. Setting a canonical URL is then a must. What is canonical and why is it so important? We discuss this concept in detail here and give you advice.

What is a canonical?

A canonical is a term you come across on the Internet. It is a way to avoid putting duplicate content on the Internet, one way this is done is with a canonical URL or canonical tag.

Breadcrumbs on The importance of a canonical URL or tag website

A search engine such as Google penalizes duplicate content: in fact, it is difficult for a search engine to determine which page has the original text and is therefore at the top of the search results. By using a canonical tag or URL, you make it known to the search engine that you are posting duplicate content and indicate which URL you are allowing to be included in search results.

There are certain situations where, sometimes against one’s own wishes, there is duplicate content. This is the case, for example, when two web shops have virtually the same offer: it is logical that the content will then be very similar or even completely the same. In this case, using a canonical URL is a solution: the original URL then gets the SEO value.

The impact of a canonical on SEO

A canonical tag or URL may definitely have an impact on the SEO of a website or page. At least it ensures that the search engine does not penalize you for posting duplicate content. And when you are the website with the original content, you do not suffer from the fact that another website is using your content and you get the SEO value assigned to you.

My advice

Google penalizes duplicate content, and to avoid bearing the brunt of this, it’s important to take action: applying a canonical URL or tag.

We recommend applying the canonical tag or URL when there is duplicate content. Do you have a WordPress site? Installing the Yoast plugin then makes it easy to make these settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Canonical?

Canonical is a term. You can prevent duplicate content from being posted on the Internet. The google search engine penalizes duplicate content. There are situations where there may be duplicate content. A canonical url is then the solution because then the original url gets the SEO value.

What is the impact of Canonical on SEO?

If you have a canonical tag or url then it impacts the SEO of your page/website. You will not be penalized by the search engine when you have duplicate content. If you have the original content, your website will be assigned SEO value when another website starts using your content.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 28 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 28 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.