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How Canonicalization Affects SEO

Showing search engines the canonical version of a given URL isn’t always as easy as it looks. Even if you think you did everything right, SEO-wise, improper “canonicalization” can still have a negative impact on your position in the search engine results.

Canonicalization refers to establishing the primary version of a webpage that has identical, or nearly identical content across multiple URLs. Let’s look at how canonicalization affects your SEO – and what you can do about it.

The problem: multiple URL variants, same content

Sometimes, it’s possible that the same content can be found on different URLs on your website. This is a pretty common occurrence with Content Management Systems today. One of the most common examples is the homepage of a website:

  • Etc.

When this happens, you might receive inbound links from across the web to any version of these pages. Unfortunately, search engines will see all these inbound links pointing to different URL variations when they should be pointing to just one. As a result, you can lose your position in the search rankings for having link equity (link juice) being spread among different URLs. Aside from a loss in Page Authority, your site will also likely suffer in the search results for having duplicate content issues.

The solution: 301 redirects and the rel=”canonical” tag

One way to show search engines which page should be considered the canonical version is via a 301 (permanent) redirect. Have your web developer 301 redirect all duplicate pages to a single instance of that URL. An example of this would be:

  • being redirected to the non-www version 

Another way is to add the rel=”canonical” tag to EACH instance of the page that is NOT the canonical version. You will need to add the tag to the HTML head. It will look like this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://*insert canonical URL version*” />

With the canonical tag, you’re telling the search engines that the page in question is a copy of another one. That way, the search engines know which page should be given priority.

At KEO Marketing, we understand how technical SEO can impact the results of your content marketing efforts. That’s why as a trusted SEO agency, KEO Marketing will always take care of canonicalization problems before they become problems.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.