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Is Canonicalization a Google Ranking Factor?

Canonicalization has been shown to be related to search rankings, but is it a ranking factor? Canonicalization is closely tied to search rankings, but wouldn't it be far-fetched to call it a ranking factor?

You may have heard of the rel="Canonical" tag as a tool for combining ranking signals from multiple URLs into a single canonical URL.

This is true, but it's a tool with limited use cases.Even when used properly, there is no guarantee that Google will follow its instructions.Learn more about canonical URLs and how rel="Canonical" tags relate to search rankings.

Disclaimer: Canonicalization (rel="Canonical") is a ranking factor

Rel="canonical" is an HTML tag that can be used to tell Google which version of the page to display in search results when there are multiple versions of the page.

It's most commonly used as a way to consolidate duplicate URLs on your own site, but it can also be used when content is republished or syndicated across multiple domains.

Google doesn't like showing duplicate content in search results, so it picks one URL and omits the others.This is called a canonical URL.

In addition to telling Google which URL to show in search results, some people believe that the rel="canonical" tag can forward ranking signals from one page to another.

That's what Google says about specs, as they relate to search rankings.

Evidence: Canonicalization (rel="canonical") as a ranking factor

Google's Official Guide to Advanced SEO has an entire chapter on using canonicalization to consolidate duplicate URLs.Strangely, it doesn't mention anything about search rankings.

However, Google's John Mueller previously touched on the topic of Canonical and search rankings in his weekly SEO Q&A session.

In this particular example, Mueller advises site owners to use the rel="canonical" tag for duplicate content, as it consolidates all ranking signals into one.他 说:

"In general, I recommend using rel="canonical" for duplicate content instead of noindex.

With noindex, you're telling us that this page shouldn't be indexed at all.

With Canonical, you're telling us that this page is basically the same as the other pages I have, which helps us because then we can take all the signals for both pages and combine them into one.

However, if you only have a noindex, or if you block it with a bot.txt, the signals associated with that page will be lost, or if there is a noindex on it, they will be removed.

This confirms that Google is able to incorporate ranking signals from duplicate content into a canonical URL with a rel="canonical" HTML tag.

Canonicalization as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Canonicalization has been shown to be associated with search rankings, but that doesn't mean it's a ranking factor. The rel="canonical" tag can be used to combine signals from multiple duplicate URLs into one, but even then it's not a reliable tool.

If the rel="Canonical" tag is used properly, Google may still choose to ignore it and instead choose its own canonical URL to appear in search results.

The rel="canonical" tag is more of a suggestion than a directive - definitely not a ranking factor.

Extended reading:

Is Breadcrumb Navigation a Google Ranking Factor?

Is Bounce Rate a Google Ranking Factor?

Top 8 Google Ranking Factors - What Really Matters for SEO

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