An In-Depth Guide to "rel=canonical"

Look up the word 'canonical' in a synonym dictionary, and you'll likely find words like 'authorized', 'accepted', and 'approved'.

In the world of search engine optimization, setting a canonical URL is a means of declaring to search engines the original source of content in an article. Content curation is a great way to disseminate knowledge on a subject — your site can bring in travel diaries of backpackers from all over the globe, or present mouth-watering recipes from chefs across cuisines. When you curate content, you are not only popularizing great information, but you are also strengthening the authority of the original creators. 

But there is a condition. No curators should appear to have copied over the content and passed it off as their own creation. Search engines like Google and Bing enforce heavy penalties on copycats, including getting them wiped off the search index. 

What is "rel=canonical"? Do I need it?

It is a link tag in HTML that should be used when you have imported content using WP RSS Aggregator's Feed to Post add-on and want to acknowledge the original source to search engines. This is part of 'white hat SEO', meaning SEO is done correctly, ultimately getting yourself in search engines' good books.

With advancements in artificial intelligence, search engines are smart enough to spot content thieves and few publishers can get away. With our Feed to Post add-on, we've made it easy to create a canonical link tag on every post you import, thus helping you avoid duplicate content penalties.

On the Edit Feed Source page for your feed, just tick the checkbox 'Canonical Link'

Click Update. If required, re-import all your previously imported feeds if you want the setting to apply to already imported items.

If you open the HTML source of subsequently imported posts, you will find link tags like this one: 

That's it! You can rest assured everyone's a winner — you, as a curator, have legitimately transmitted great content, and the original creators are duly elevated in the eyes of search engines.

Canonical URLs and Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and instant messaging apps like WhatsApp will look for the canonical URL while you share links.
This is just the manner they've chosen to allow content to be shared on their platforms. Our Feed to Post add-on sets the meta og:url tag to point to your own website's link. This instructs Facebook to share your site's URL rather than the original source's URL.

Further Reading

  1. rel=canonical: the ultimate guide
  2. Learn about the Canonical Link Element in 5 minutes
  3. Consolidate duplicate URLs

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