A recent announcement by John Mueller of Google on self-referencing canonical tags may change the way of SEO campaigns on the date. It was stated that the tags are not a mandate to have but can help to some extents.
Mueller said, “It is a great practice to have a self-referencing canonical but it is not critical”.
It was during one of the hangouts of Google Webmaster Central that this topic surfaced up for discussion in the response to a site owner’s question about how important the self-referencing canonical tags are for SEO performance.
What purpose do the canonicals serve?
The canonicals find applications in linking the pages of non-canonical versions to its canonical counterparts. But these tags can also be used for linking the pages to it. The canonical tags based on self-referencing are beneficial due to the fact that the URLs have a probability of getting linked with the various parameters as well as the UTM tags. In case of such circumstances, Google is likely to craw the URLs linked to the parameters and use it as the canonical variety of the same page. Thus self-referencing allows you the ability to specify the URL that you want to be recognized by Google or the other search engines as the canonical URL.
Is it okay if you externally define the canonical versions?
Canonicals play an important role in influencing the results of SEO campaigns. It might be the case multiple distinct versions of a specific webpage are available as stated below:
In case all the versions are accessible, it may confuse the Google crawler in identifying the right version of the page that you want your users to have access to. It can attract negative penalties as well.
The main principle behind the use of canonicals is to redirect all of the pages to a single version of the page so that only that version is accessible on the web at any point of time. While it is possible to define a specific page for canonical redirection, it may take up a lot of your effort and time that you must dedicate for the task. But the use of self-referencing can help you to simplify it to a great extent.
Main benefits of canonical tags
To begin with, canonical tags help to cut down duplicate pages on your website. This works to increase the relevance of your page contents and ensure that a single page comes up on the search engine result pages when a search query relevant to your content is submitted in the major search engines such as Google or Bing. It directly influences the authenticity of the contents and helps you to earn positive responses.
If you are still unsure about why you should use canonical tags or how to use it, you can search the web or get in touch with us to know more on the topic.