What is it? Besides difficult to say ;)
Canonicalisation is the use of canonical tags to send a stronger signal to search engine crawlers. Canonical tags are snippets of code (rel=canonical) in a website’s HTML code that defines the main version for duplicate, near duplicate or similar pages.
For example, if an ecommerce company sells a specific shoe and the blue version of the shoe is the most popular, the company should create a product page for the shoes as opposed to having a page for a blue shoe. So instead of creating canonical pages for single URLs with slight variations such as a blue shoe page, a white shoe page etc, a company should instead create one master page for its product and then offer variations to the product in the master page.
By doing this, we can signal search engine crawlers by defining the master product page. This will ensure that your master product page gains link equity and is prioritised, which ultimately will help save your crawl budget.
Remember: Canonicalising correctly can help search engine crawlers understand your site structure better, that can ultimately lead to a better crawl rate and improved visibility.
Why are canonical tags important for SEO?
Search Engines such as Google don’t like duplicate content. If you had to look through 1 billion sites in 0.81 seconds for a keyword like “chocolate”, would you want to see the same page over and over again?
Search Engines don’t like duplicate content. It makes it harder for them to choose:
- Which version of your page to index (they’ll only index one!)
- Which version of your page to rank for relevant queries.
- Whether they should consolidate “link equity” on one of your pages or split it between multiple versions.
Image to explain Link Equity and why it is necessary to create master pages.
Too much duplicate content can also affect your “crawl budget” (Number 5 on this post explains Crawl Budget perfectly). That means Google may end up wasting time crawling multiple versions of the same page instead of discovering other important content on your website.
Top Tips for Ecommerce Canonicalisation
- Create master pages with in-page variations to avoid duplicate content.
- Just because one variant of your product is popular, don’t be tempted to make it the canonicalised page.
- Conduct Keyword Research and find out what your customers are searching for in relation to your company. As customer search intentions change, so should a company’s website to meet the everchanging needs of their customers.
- Prioritise technical SEO around your website and create a strong base. This will really help to showcase the best side of your business to the Search Engine algorithms.
Now that you know more about Ecommerce Canonicalisation, challenge us to look at your website’s canonical tags. Get in touch and we would love to help!