As a website owner, you may have multiple versions of the same content on your website, either because you’ve created a mobile version or because you have different language versions. However, search engines can penalize your website for duplicate content, as it can lead to confusion and a poor user experience. To avoid this, you can use a canonical tag to tell search engines which page is the main version of your content. But what if you have an alternative page that you want to be indexed as well? In this case, you can use an alternative page with a proper canonical tag.
What is a Canonical Tag?
A canonical tag is an HTML element that tells search engines which version of a page is the preferred or canonical version. This is important when you have multiple versions of the same content, as it helps search engines understand which version to index and display in search results. By specifying a canonical URL, you can consolidate link equity and avoid duplicate content issues.
For example, let’s say you have a page with the URL “example.com/product1”. You also have a mobile version of this page with the URL “m.example.com/product1”. To avoid duplicate content issues, you can add a canonical tag to the mobile version that points to the desktop version, like this:
HTML code example:-
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/product1" />
This tells search engines that the desktop version is the preferred version, and any link equity or ranking signals should be attributed to that version.
What is an Alternative Page?
An alternative page is a page that contains similar content to the canonical page but is intended for a different audience or purpose. For example, you may have a page in English that you want to translate into Spanish. The Spanish version would be an alternative page because it contains the same information as the English version but is intended for a different audience.
Using an Alternative Page with a Proper Canonical Tag
If you have an alternative page that you want to be indexed as well, you can use a proper canonical tag to avoid duplicate content issues. A proper canonical tag is a combination of a canonical tag and an alternate tag that tells search engines that the alternative page is also a valid version of the content. Here’s an example of how you can use a proper canonical tag:
HTML code example:-
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/product1" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="https://example.com/es/producto1" />
In this example, the canonical tag points to the desktop version of the page, and the alternate tag points to the Spanish version of the page. The “hreflang” attribute specifies the language of the alternative page, which helps search engines understand which version to display in search results.
By using a proper canonical tag, you can ensure that both versions of your content are indexed without penalty for duplicate content. This is important for websites that serve multiple languages or have different versions for different devices.
Using a canonical tag is essential for avoiding duplicate content issues, but it’s also important to consider alternative pages that contain similar content. By using a proper canonical tag, you can ensure that both versions of your content are indexed without penalty and provide a better user experience for your audience. Remember to specify the canonical URL for your preferred version of the content and use the alternate tag to indicate that the alternative page is also a valid version.
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