The Most Important HTML Tag : rel=canonical

People tend to be on one of two sides when it comes to the rel=canonical tag. Either they don’t know what it is, or they keep on bringing it up.
With content being the next big thing for inbound traffic, and the likes of tweets, facebook, linkedin, your content gets shared in half a dozen different places. Google looks into content, and the algorithms check all the content to see if its unique.
You should be questioning what I’ve just said there. At least 6 different versions of the same content, and Google likes to see unique content. THAT is where the canonical tag comes in.

What is it?

The first step is saying how it works. In short, you place the html tag on version of your content that are re-posts. It sits at the top of the body, and isn’t a visual thing, but tells search engines that the original content is elsewhere.

It looks like this:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”ORIGINAL CONTENT” />

The use of canonical doesn’t end there though. If someone steals your content and places it on their website without the canonical tag, the search engine might think it was original content. But if you placed the canonical tag somewhere else on the web, that was indexed, the search engine knows its stolen content, and penalizes the thief. Cool, right?


How To Use It

Sadly, if you’re reading this, there’s a high chance you’ve got years of content behind you. And I’m going to be the guy to tell you about the weeks of work you have ahead of you.
First up is to get familiar with the tag itself. Its pretty simple, made up of a url of the original content, and there’s no end tag.

So now you have to find all the duplicate content. The easiest way to do this is using a tool such as CopyScape or Siteliner, which checks the web for all your duplicate content.

You then need to find a place for your new tag to go. I would suggest something like linkedin, which is indexed by google even though all links are nofollow, and you can add html without it being auto removed.

Then get tagging.

If you want to look into canonical tags in more depth, Moz has a killer post.

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