We talk a lot about canonical URLs in relation to content marketing — but what is a canonical URL? How does using a canonical URL improve your search results? Why should anyone bother with a canonical URL?
What is a canonical URL?
A canonical URL points to the “best representative page from a group of pages,” according to Google. This means that if the same content is posted in multiple places, the canonical URL tells Google, and other search engines, which copy is the original.
Content aggregators, like the SchoolFinder Group platform, uses canonical URLs to give credit to the original poster of a piece of content. This way, your original content still ranks in search engine results, while also appearing on the SFG platform for more exposure.
How does the SchoolFinder Group use canonical URLs?
Any time we repost content that we think will resonate with the SFG student audience, we insert a canonical URL tag. So, a piece of content, like a how-to guide or a news release, still “belongs” to your site as the originator of the content. We use the canonical URL to let search engines know that ours is a repost, and yours the original.
When a user views a piece on the SFG platform, the total views on your own site will not be affected. When a search engine user searches for a keyword that surfaces your content, your original piece will rank higher in the results, even if the reposted piece is crawled first. So, you get wider exposure, with no risk of dampened traffic.
When we repost, we have a specific field used for canonical URLs. This is a simplified version of the rel=”canonical” link annotation that any content creator can use. We’ve baked it into the platform to make reposting easy and effective.
One caveat: when we write an original piece drawn from content spread across your site, we do not use a canonical URL, unless a significant amount of the content is sourced from a single page. When material is pulled together from multiple sources, there’s no single canonical URL to point to. The piece is, in essence, original.
What happens to submitted content, not direct reposts?
Content you submit to us directly, that is not a repost from your school or organization’s website, does not get canonicalized. Only duplicate content requires a canonical URL, so search engines can determine which is the original. New content, therefore, doesn’t require canonicalization.
If you’re submitting content that already exists on your site, please let us know, and we will add a canonical URL so that your original is preferred in search results.
I still have questions about canonical URLs!
If you’re still wondering what canonical URLs are and how to use them, feel free to drop us a line at email@example.com. Or, if you fancy a deep dive, Google offers an in-depth explanation of canonical URLs and the various ways they can be used. You may also want to watch this short YouTube video to get a sense of the basics:
Thanks for reading!
Logan Bright — firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about The SchoolFinder Group, please email us at email@example.com.