Are you using the Canonical Tag Correctly?
 by Casey Markee

Are you using the Canonical Tag Correctly?

  • We are a big e-commerce operation with a lot of duplicated or nearly duplicated product listing pages. We also have a large syndicated content network where we push out articles on client or affiliate sites. It is my understanding that this can lead to Google Penguin and Panda issues and we've been advised to ensure that we are using the canonical tag correctly. Can you provide some best practices and a review of what we should be doing with regard to this tag?

Duplicate Content Canonical GraphicAnswer: As a big e-commerce site you are absolutely correct to recognize the importance of the canonical tag in managing both duplicated product listings and cross domain syndicated content. Sites with hundreds or even thousands of products spanning multiple categories and customizations can easily generate identical or nearly identical URL paths that can lead to duplicate content issues and trigger a Panda or Penguin algorithmic slap.

Further, if you own or manage a large string of closely-interconnected sites, or provide a template service (i.e. websites for dentists, chiropractors, etc.) that share similar content modules you push out from one main content engine, knowing how to implement the canonical tag is essential! Not using the canonical tag correctly can result in these client sites getting slapped with duplicate content filters and dropping like rocks through the rankings.

The canonical tag seems deceptively simple to implement but it just takes one small mistake to bring the whole thing crashing down around you. It actually ASTOUNDS us here at how many experienced e-commerce sites still incorrectly use the tag. Case in point: we recently had a consultation with a long-time member that had mistakenly entered the canonical tag as follows on ALL of their duplicated content pages:

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