SEO Canonical Element - Testing is crucial!

Search business — facesaerchteam @ 11:42 am

On Feb. 12 2009 Google announced the support of the new Canonical-Tag. Basically you can now specify the preferred URL you want Google to associate with a specific webpage.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

So cool.

After implementing it on various properties and checking the use of it on other websites there are a few findings:

  • It’s immense powerful!
  • For Google it’s basically a HTTP 301 permanent redirect.
  • Without the actual redirect.
  • It’s easy to implement.
  • No design or function change for human users.

After implementation you see first effects about 10 to 14 days later, depending on your indexing speed. If you have a grown, messy site it will give you a big plus SEO wise.

Now the downside:

powerful + easy + lack of feedback  = source of possible devastating errors

The minor errors i have seen:

Wrong markup

  • <link  rel=”canonical” content=””>

As SEOs are used to deal with meta tags, we write a lot of stuff in meta-tags (robots, description, …). The canonical element is not an meta-tag, it’s a link-tag (like external CSS or RSS referrers).

The consequence is quite harmless: you implemented something without effect. It only becomes an issue if your implement logic on top of it, or look for a reaction and see none. A popular wordpress theme made this mistake, and i got caught up in a serious twitterfigth by pointing it - impolite (sorry) - out.

Typo that leads to an HTTP 404

  • <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

The typo (/urlh/ere instead of /url/here) leads to an error (most common HTTP 404 file not found) page.

Google follows this lead, sees that something is wrong, keeps on continuing his work without any consequences. Again not a biggy until you implement something on top of it or wait for a reaction.

Major errors

Typo that leads to an HTTP 200 or HTTP 301 / HTTP 302

  • <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

If /url/hier exists (HTTP 200) or instead of an HTTP 404 triggers a redirect to somewhere else (i.e. the startpage) you communicated to Google that the page the canonical tag is on placed on is not valid, and another page is the right one. Google does not hesitate to kick the original URL out of the index, and goes to the ‘canonical’ one instead.

If the error is systematically (on a lot of pages) you will butcher your search engine traffic in no time (10 days). The shit thing is: mistakes happen, and especially if you don’t see any real time feedback.

Also if you update your URL structure or your redirect logic, but forget to update your canonical you will run into major issues.

Conclusion: The canonical tag is a present from god Google. Due to the lack of direct feedback also a source of possible devasting errors.

Help: A simple JS Greasemonkey script which shows the canonical tag in the upper right corner (if it is sepcified).


  1. You are right. I made a mistake. Thanks for twittering this. :)

    Comment by Aldo — March 25, 2009 @ 3:39 pm
  2. SEO Canonical Element - Testing is crucial! | facesaerch blog…

    neuer tag, wird behandelt wie ein 301!…

    Trackback by frida/sb — April 24, 2009 @ 7:22 pm
  3. Thanks - we will give it go on our holiday rental comparison site.

    Comment by Ski holidays — August 10, 2009 @ 10:55 am
  4. Absolutely right. That’s really worth of praise.

    Comment by backlinks — September 12, 2009 @ 11:15 pm
  5. Definitely needed for SEO!

    Comment by Challenge Coins — January 9, 2010 @ 1:13 am
  6. Absolutely right

    Comment by Airport Limo — March 13, 2010 @ 12:05 pm
  7. Thanks for típ ! That’s great !

    Comment by Doan Tung — August 21, 2010 @ 11:46 pm
  8. ok,
    it looks great, thanks a lot

    i will work on it

    Comment by chambres d'hotes — August 27, 2010 @ 10:11 pm
  9. Thanks for tips ! Bookmarked !!

    Comment by Doan Tung — September 16, 2010 @ 7:33 am
  10. Thanks for tips ! \m/

    Comment by Vi Pro — September 16, 2010 @ 9:50 am
  11. I didn’t try it before but I will do it. Thx a lot I have found a lot of informations in your article. Please more article like yours

    Comment by au pair — September 29, 2010 @ 5:58 pm
  12. Good tip, I’ve had trouble which 301s before so this might help. I can’t see why Google doesn’t figure all this stuff out itself to resolve the problem automatically.

    Comment by Metal Lunch Boxes — October 14, 2010 @ 2:23 pm
  13. Definitely needed for SEO!
    it looks, thanks a lot

    Comment by wwwgreataz — November 3, 2010 @ 10:31 pm
  14. Soemtimes the older posts are the best ones! Thanks for helping me with this problem.

    Comment by solarman — December 3, 2010 @ 1:05 pm
  15. SEO is a hard-working job with wisdom.

    Comment by superman — December 24, 2010 @ 9:54 am
  16. Thanks for típ ! That’s great !

    Comment by organisation mariage — January 4, 2011 @ 11:15 pm
  17. This is very nice post. thank you so much for such a informative blog. its very helpful for me

    Comment by Kerala Holiday Packages — January 14, 2011 @ 8:23 am
  18. We specialize delivering expert search engine marketing and customized social media solution. SEO Greeks are able to setup a tailored social media strategy that can help you engage with your customers on a personal level while increasing your site traffic and sales revenue through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more. Read more:

    Comment by Rimi — March 4, 2011 @ 10:03 am
  19. I had a massive issue with this for a long time and took me ages to get the right code string to solve it as its different code depending on what servers you are on.

    Comment by hydroponics — June 7, 2011 @ 1:27 pm
  20. meta tags are usually quite easy to understand but it goes to show I don’t know everything

    Comment by mulberry bags — August 14, 2011 @ 12:04 am
  21. I have heard that meta tags doesn’t matters anymore .

    Comment by electronics — November 16, 2011 @ 7:51 pm
  22. Thanks for the post. It might give me an extra boost for my SEO campaign!

    Comment by Jump Manual — December 28, 2011 @ 12:18 am
  23. great post.
    Last week Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft announced support for a new link element to clean up duplicate urls on sites

    Comment by sajan kota — June 18, 2012 @ 1:58 pm
  24. Very nice post share…..Its really nice post about seo topic.

    Comment by Web Design Company — July 6, 2013 @ 10:19 am
  25. hello good application

    Comment by cri.ogx — November 15, 2013 @ 11:48 pm
  26. These platforms had no simple way of creating a telephone call record.
    - no wrinkles (use an iron, have clothes dry cleaned
    or buy a new outfit). The mentor will shadow the instructor and
    provide feedback on the instructor’s performance.

    Comment by acca p5 — April 21, 2014 @ 12:33 pm
  27. Definitely believe that that you stated. Your favourite justification seemed to be on the internet the easiest thing to bear in mind of.

    I say to you, I definitely get annoyed whilst other folks think about
    issues that they just do not recognize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the
    top and also outlined out the entire thing without having side-effects ,
    other folks can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.

    Feel free tto visit my web-site :: online marketing agentur müNchen for winners

  28. Attractive component to content. I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital
    to claim that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.

    Anyway I will be subscribing for your augment and even I success you
    get entry to consistently rapidly.

    Comment by tyrant unleashed android hack — July 24, 2014 @ 11:52 am
  29. An ipressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting a
    little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner
    simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So llet me reword this….

    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about
    this issue here on youur wweb site.

    my blog post - New Orleans professional professional SEO firm

  30. ‘ Try to set realistic budget amounts for each of the recipients on your worksheet in order to minimize the need
    for edits to your worksheet, but do not be afraid to make edits as necessary.
    Go - To - Webinar comes with Go - To - Meeting,
    for smaller, more collaborative online meetings. Knowing this we
    just need to find websites that the major search
    engine crawls frequently.

    Comment by 2014 can am 1000 atv — August 16, 2014 @ 11:49 pm
  31. Јe prends laa peine de publier ce com afin de complimenter le webmaster

    My webloǥ :: clip adulte gratuit

    Comment by clip adulte gratuit — September 24, 2014 @ 5:07 am
  32. Tгès attractif, je pense qսe ce post intéresserait mon ami

    Also visit my blg alexis silver

    Comment by alexis silver — September 24, 2014 @ 4:39 pm
  33. Vous faîtes constɑmment des postes intéressants

    Here is mƴ ρaǥe :: salopes blanches

    Comment by salopes blanches — October 8, 2014 @ 6:36 am
  34. Je sսis entièrement en accord avec toi

    Feel freee to surrf to my blog post; salopes brunes

    Comment by salopes brunes — October 11, 2014 @ 7:19 pm
  35. Remarquable pօst, contiuez comme ça

    My blog: suceuse black

    Comment by suceuse black — October 12, 2014 @ 4:25 pm
  36. Јe vais finir de vߋir ça plus tard

    My blog grosses salopes

    Comment by grosses salopes — October 19, 2014 @ 1:16 am
  37. Јe ѕuis tombée sur ton ѕitee web pаг ɦasard : je
    ne le regrettee nullement !!

    Herе is my blog post suceuse obèse

    Comment by suceuse obèse — October 21, 2014 @ 7:43 am
  38. Bon post : pérennisez de cette manière

    Also visit mу website: belle gosse

    Comment by belle gosse — October 22, 2014 @ 6:25 pm
  39. Un іmposant msrci à l’administrateur de ce
    site internet

    Mƴ blog post; jeune baiseuse

    Comment by jeune baiseuse — October 22, 2014 @ 11:31 pm
  40. Je suis tսt à fait en accord avec vous

    Here iis my blog:

    Comment by — February 19, 2015 @ 5:51 pm
  41. Extremely, well-fed National men had greater charges of cardiovascular disease than those
    in countries whose diets had been confined from war’s deprivations.

    Comment by Muriel — December 12, 2015 @ 6:29 pm
  42. Oh we’ve seen a few HTTP 200s with this, quick question, how has Google’s ongoing updates/changes to algorithm affected this? We’re currently working with a client’s site and want to enhance it as best as we can.

    Cheers from Australia,

    Comment by Adam — January 7, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

(c) 2017 facesaerch blog