How Do Canonical URLs Affect SEO?


Duplicate content is a problem that all websites want to avoid where possible. From a content perspective, AI tools have the potential to do that in spades, and if site owners are not carefully considering the validity of AI-generated content, they could be opening the door to potential problems.

However, duplicate content in SEO also refers to a longstanding issue in which search engines don’t know which version of a web page to index or display in search results. From this, it’s difficult to determine the right place to direct domain authority or trust. This is where the use of canonical URLs comes into play, and this very short guide is here to give you a snapshot of what they do and how they work.

What is a Canonical URL?

Canonical URLs help search engines like Google determine which version of a URL should rank in search results. A canonical URL is the preferred version of a URL that a website owner wants search engines to recognise and index.

For example, if you have a product page with multiple URLs like:


Hypothetically, you can specify that is the canonical URL.

The canonical version would look like:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

Search engines will then treat that as the main URL and may ignore or give less weight to the other duplicate versions.

Why Are Canonical URLs Important for SEO?

There are a few reasons why canonical URLs are important for SEO.

Canonical URLs prevent duplicate content penalties

If multiple URLs lead to the same content, search engines may view that as a spammy, black hat SEO tactic of trying to rank the page for too many keywords. As such, your rankings may be negatively affected.

Canonical URLs consolidate page authority

The rankings and link equity of the non-canonical URLs are distributed to the canonical URL, resulting in better domain authority and rankings for the preferred page.

Canonical URLs improve crawlability

By specifying the canonical URL, you make it easy for search engines to discover your content and not waste resources crawling duplicate or less-important pages.

Canonical URLs aid user experience

Canonical URLs that are displayed in search results over variants mean your preferred content is being distributed, thus improving the user experience for your site. This, as we know, is hugely important.

In summary, implementing canonical URLs is an important technical SEO tactic that can help boost your rankings and traffic. By clarifying to search engines which URL you prefer, you make it easy for them to fully understand your content and rank your site accordingly. With some simple tags or redirects, you can leverage canonical URLs and gain a competitive edge.

There are a few other important facts to know when it comes to setting canonical URLs and avoiding any misconceptions about duplicate content. If you need help with the technical implementation of a URL structure and canonical tags to ensure your content is as visible as possible, we can help you. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help get your content indexed and seen by your target customers.