Canonical URLs in WordPress

Canonicalisation is often as a complex and confusing process but it’s an integral part of a SEO process, especially if you are moving content while redesigning or restructuring your website. Google really simplified the definition of canonicalisation:

A canonical page is the preferred version of a set of pages with highly similar content.

Although people realise it has something to do with SEO it is often confused 301 redirect. Let’s see what it means in practice.

What Does Canonicalisation Mean in Practice?

Let’s take a look at few examples of URL:
http://webpage.com
http://www.webpage.com
http://www.webpage.com/index.php

Most people don’t notice the difference. Hey, as long as it takes them to the destination, right? Well, for Google and other search engines these are different URL’s. Search engines will crawl your site, index all of your content and then decide which is a preferred version of URL.

Whenever it’s possible you want to be the one that decides what content will be presented in which way. That’s why you want to provide search engines with canonical URL.

Hot To Set Canonical URL?

Setting Canonical URL in WordPress

First of all it’s important that you decide if your site address will be with or without “www” (http://webpage.com or http://www.webpage.com). In WordPress under Settings > General you’ll find the following options:
Verify the Homepage’s Canonical URL in WordPress
Enter the preferred URL in both fields. When a user tries to access your site with the other URL they will be redirected to the one you entered here.

Verifying Homepage’s Canonical URL in Google Webmasters Tools

Now it’s time to tell Google the preferred URL using Webmasters Tools. First you need to add both http:// and http://www. versions of your website to your account and then set the preferred one under Configuration > Settings.
Choose preferred domain using Google Webmasters Tools
Do this on both accounts.

Setting Canonical URL For an Individual Post Using Yoast

Yoast is a great SEO plugin. It’s easy to use and it’s quite reliable. If you want to change the canonical for a certain post/article you can do that manually under Advanced tab.
Setting Canonical URL using Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress
Although all of this may sound taunting once you start applying it you’ll see it’s rather simple and doesn’t take much time. Canonicalisation is really a must if you want to apply proper SEO technique to your website and avoid one common SEO mistake many others make.

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