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Canonical Tags. How To Use Them Properly?

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by Dan Da Man, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. Dan Da Man

    Dan Da Man Elite Member Premium Member

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    Have heard some great things about using canonical tags. Can anyone with some experience using them shed some light on how and when to use canonical?

    I hear they are great for e commerce stores is why I ask because that is what I do. My take is that you create canonical tags to tell google that two similar pages are in fact different when without use of them, google will see them as the same and give you less credit and will not index both pages. E commerce runs the risk of this since you have many many pages and they often tend to be very similar.
     
  2. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    My understanding is that it tells the search engines to ignore pages marked canonical... I'm not sure that they get indexed even. Not sure.... I bet somebody else around here would know more though.
     
  3. assphuck

    assphuck Senior Member

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    Canonical tags are a directive to pass link juice to the original document. Rather than explain the finer details of how it works, look at any Amazon affiliate link to see how they are using these tags to build authority from affiliate links. Amazon affiliate links all use canonical tags and pass link juice to the primary non-affiliate URL.
     
  4. m4dm4n

    m4dm4n Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    a good example of canonical usage for ecommerce is:
    you have a page for each product and another page with comments/send to a friend and you want people from google to go to your product page first not send to a friend or comments... then you would add canonical link to both the comments page and the send to a friend and make google treat the product page as the most important one ( though as they say... they take into consideration canonical tags but might ignore them if they think it would suit you better )
     
  5. timgraham

    timgraham Newbie

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    I'm no expert but this is how I understand it:

    Canonical tag tells Google that there is duplicate content on the page and tells Google where the original content is.
    Google should consider the URL in the canonical tag as the original source of the content.

    If Google finds two pages that are very similar it sometimes picks one to index (for a certain search term) and leaves out the duplicate. The canonical tag tells Google which page you would like indexed in such a case.
     
  6. timgraham

    timgraham Newbie

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    It tells Google that two pages have the same (or very similar) content and which one is the original (or most important)
    It does not tell Google that two pages are different. Trust me, Google knows this already.

    I use them on "same domain" duplicate content. No other use for them as far as I know.
     
  7. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Let me ask this then... IF google does pick one of two pages to index because they share too much content then is there a way to tell it to re-index the other if you've changed the content that WAS duplicate?
     
  8. timgraham

    timgraham Newbie

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    Google will continue to crawl both pages and re-index your content.
    What I meant to say was, it may leave out one of the pages from the search results (for a certain search phrase)
    The page it leaves out may actually rank for other keywords depending on the content.

    So what you are telling Google is this - If you are considering one of two pages to include in your search results, I would prefer this page (URL in the canonical tag) instead of this page (page containing the canonical tag).

    Often both pages will appear if the content is not 100% identical anyway.

    Just to be clear - In my opinion there is no SEO benefit to using the tag. If Google find two pages with the same (or very similar content) and no canonical tag is used, it chooses which one is more important. If the tag is used, then it should choose the URL you have identified.

    The canonical tag does not improve rank.
     
  9. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Is there any hard number (or a good guess) of how unique a page's content should be (percentage) to be considered "good enough" by Google to rank both fully?
     
  10. timgraham

    timgraham Newbie

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    From my experience, if the page URL's, titles, descriptions and headings are different there is a fair chance they will both rank for non competitive keywords.

    I have a business directory that lists businesses in many categories and some of the pages are 80-90% identical apart from the things mentioned above. I'm not saying they rank well (yet) but often they appear directly underneith each other in the serps.

    Do you have a real world example of what you are trying to achieve ?
     
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  11. GiorgioB

    GiorgioB Supreme Member

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    as timgraham says.. they are used to control which of your duplicate pages ranks in particular. Google will only rank 1 of the pages, while the other pages will be crawled and indexed but probably not ranked any way near the original page.

    to indicate to google that some pages are duplicate content, and that you know about it and wish Google to ignore the duplicate pages, you add this tag : <link rel="canonical" href="http://www.yourdomain.com/yourduplicatepage" /> and if you want Google to re-consider this page for the rankings, just remove that tag.
     
  12. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Interesting, thanks.