3 Horrors of Not Having a Canonical URL 

importance of canonical urls

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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?

What does canonical mean in 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. 

For example:



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) 

what are the disadvantages of not having canonical url

    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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        Nitin Manchanda

        Nitin Manchanda

        Nitin Manchanda is a developer turned SEO. In the past, Nitin has helped some really popular brands like Omio, trivago, and Flipkart grow organically. He is also the founder of Botpresso, a boutique SEO consultancy. While not busy with his SEO stuff, you'll find him planning his next trip, watching some cricket match, or painting, crafting or breaking things with his two daughters!