Rel=canonical element, or the canonical link
A rel=canonical tag is a snippet of HTML code that marks up web pages which are at risk of being interpreted as duplicate content. Through using this tag in pages with similar or identical content, webmasters are able to convey to search engines which is the original page-the ‘canonical link’—and which are subsequent copies. The canonical link, established as the preferred version, is given ranking priority over the copies, thus avoiding duplicate content issues.
In the SEO world, content is king. Coming up with new and relevant content for your site or blog should be at the core of your digital marketing strategy. However, every now and then, a webite can find itself needing to use the exact same content more than once across their website, or even across multiple websites.
Search engines, including Google, will consider this duplicate content. But for many companies some duplication is inevitable, for example when there are only subtle variations on a product or when press releases are published identically across different platforms.
Most duplicate content, Google understands, isn’t a result of webmasters attempting to manipulate search results. In 2013, Google spokesman Matt Cutts stated that there is no penalty for duplicate content, but that it can be detrimental to your site’s position on search results pages.
To avoid this, you need to make it very clear to search engines which URL is the original version of content—the one you value the most—and which are the subsequent copies. Your SEO agency will be able to spot potential duplication issues and help you to identify which pages should be marked as copies, and which as the original.
This is where rel=canonical comes into play.
The rel=canonical tag is a method of labelling your content for search engines. It’s a line of HTML code which, when placed correctly on a page with duplicate copy, tells the search engine to give all SEO credit to the original version.
In this way, site curators are able to channel all the link metrics, such as backlinks and page authority, into the original, rather than diluting it across multiple pages and causing internal competition.