Most people underestimate the importance of having a canonical URL on their website. Here are three main horrors likely to affect you for overlooking this critical HTML element.
What is a canonical URL?
A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is the most representative of a set of duplicate pages on your site.
The two are the same URLs but the second one carries a UTM Parameter URL. In the absence of a canonical link, the search engines will perceive both as unique, and then go ahead and index them. In the worst-case scenario, the UTM Parameter could end up being the indexed version.
A canonical URL tells Google and other search engines what URL to index since it’s the most specific and authoritative version of content within it.
Disadvantages of Not Having a Canonical URL (Three Key Horrors)
1. No Control over Duplicate URLs Getting Indexed
When the canonical tags are missing, one cannot control the number of duplicate URLs that get indexed. This creates index bloat, which then leads to the stretching of the crawl budget.
2. Little Control over Google-Selected Canonical
On large-scale sites, most of the landing pages carry boilerplate content. This leads to a massive clustering of duplicate clusters thus confusing search engines on the overall and most-authoritative intent of the landing page.
If one doesn’t declare a self-referring canonical link, Google goes ahead to select one. Due to the lack of direction, and the obvious confusion, one can find that a landing page dedicated to New Jersey was repurposed for New York.
Take a moment and think about the possible loss of business, customer dissatisfaction, and other horrors that can arise from such a critical error.
3. Availability of Duplicate Content in Different UX Formats
Imagine a website that publishes articles with accompanying videos.
As a way of improving the user experience, the website builds a video hub matching each video with the keyword targets of the articles on a landing page.
Under such a framework, canonicalizing the respective video pages to their article page helps save on the crawl budget.
It’s also a clever way of preventing keyword cannibalization.
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