SEOs & Webmasters Complaining About Google's Canonical Tag?

Aug 20, 2010 • 8:24 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

About a year and a half ago, Google released the canonical tag. In summary, it is basically a special snippet of code you place on your page that does a 301 redirect without physically redirecting people, instead it redirects search bots.

In December, they expanded the use of this tag to support cross-domain canonical tag usage, as opposed to just using the tag internally. Personally, I have just used the canonical tag internally, never applied it cross-domain - yet.

A WebmasterWorld thread has Tedster saying that many, too many, webmasters are complaining about issues with the tag. He said, "in the past week or so I've read several accounts around the web of so-called "canonical disasters." He adds:

I've used the canonical link tag with no apparent problems, and in some cases it put an easy band-aid on a nasty infrastructure knot. But now I'm reading some SEO blogs that warn against serving the canonical link on the "original" URL. How could that be a problem?

I agree on that I don't see why SEOs or Webmasters would have issues with it. But I don't agree in seeing more complaints about it than normal.

In fact, in March I ran a poll asking does the canonical tag work well on Google? The response break down was mostly positive:

Canonical Tag Poll

Not all positive. I kind of thing webmasters may not be using it right? Or maybe I am wrong?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Does Google AdSense Automatically Show Your Best Color Ad?


Joost de Valk

08/20/2010 12:52 pm

Of course the issue is people not using it right. I've been using it quite intensively on several larger and smaller sites, and have had nothing but joy from it.


08/20/2010 01:53 pm

Haven't had an issue with it -- I've actually been pretty impressed.


08/20/2010 04:16 pm

we've implemented this across our site which has millions of pages that are "syndicated" across many large portlas such as yahoo, msn, aol, etc. For the most part it works well, but we've noticed that if a syndicated page has a quality external inbound link to it, it will remain and continue to rank. My theory is that Google may decide to ignore the canonical tag if the page has quality inbound links. Just a theory, not sure if it's accurate or not.


08/21/2010 09:08 am

I've only used it a few times but I've had no visible problems. Are people unknowingly misusing it, I wonder? BB


08/21/2010 04:53 pm

We started implementing it large-scale a few months back and haven't seen a single problem with it. My guess is that people are expecting it act more like a 301, with the same flexibility as a 301, even though Google has pointed out the fairly narrow applicability of the rel=canonical link tag.

No Name

08/23/2010 04:17 pm

Most of the crap i read on webmaster world is completely opposite of what I see in practical testing of SEO. If it were not for the 5% of occasional notable reading I wouldn't even bother going there at all.

blog comments powered by Disqus