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Google’s John Mueller explains if self-referencing canonicals are important

June 21, 2019 0 comments

Self-referencing canonicals — to use or not to use, that is the question. Well, if Google’s John Mueller is to be believed, you should use them.

According to John, “it is a great practice to have a self-referencing canonical.” But he also mentioned that a self-referencing canonical “is not critical.”


The typical usage of canonical tags

Canonical tags are generally used to create a link between a non-canonical page and its canonical version. However, sometimes they can also be used to link a page to itself.

The benefit, in that case, is because URLs may get linked to with UTM tags and different parameters. Having a self-referencing canonical can allow Google to understand that your main URL (without parameters) is the canonical version.

As you can see, that is helpful. However, John Mueller mentioned that it is not critical.

Here is what he said:

“It’s not critical to have a self-referencing canonical tag on a page, but it does make it easier for us to pick exactly the URL that you want to have chosen as canonical.

We use a number of factors to pick a canonical URL, and the rel-canonical does play a role in that.

So, in particular, things like URL parameters, or if the URL is tagged in any particular way – maybe you have links going to that page that are tagged for analytics, for example – then it might happen that we pick that tagged URL as a canonical. And with the rel-canonical, you’re telling us that you really, really want this URL that you’re specifying as the canonical…

So, it’s a great practice to have a self-referencing canonical but it’s not critical. It’s not something that you must do, it’s just something that helps to make sure this mark-up is picked up properly.”

If you are interested in learning more about canonical tags, here are a few more best practices:

  • Canonicalise the homepage of your website
  • Always canonicalise cross-domain duplicate content
  • It’s important to double-check your dynamic canonical tags
  • E-commerce landing pages often have near identical landing pages for similar products if the only big changes are, say, currency, location, etc. Canonicalise the main page.
  • If the two different pieces of content are serving the same searcher intent, you may canonicalise the main version.