If you have pages with duplicate content on your website (WordPress included), it’s best practice to prioritise which page you want Google to rank. Have a duplicate page or several duplicate pages can give Google mixed messages about your website, and dilute search rankings. As it’s inevitable that duplicate content exists on websites, a solution called the ‘canonical link element’ was introduced.
Canonical comes from the word ‘canon’ meaning ‘a rule’. So in essence, we’re just setting a ‘rule’ as to which page is the priority for Google Ranking. This piece of ‘canonicalisation’ is specifically set up for Google Ranking.
Okay, how do we go about it. If you don’t have a wordpress website and you want to add the rel=canonical tag in manually, an example of a canonical link could be – <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://examplewebsite.com/” /> – . If you have a WordPress website, Yoast’s SEO Plugin deals with this simply.
Okay, say you have a website mywebsite.com and you have subdomains to this websites – for example mywebsite.com and usa.mywebsite.com. Both have plenty of content that target their specific areas, but there are a number of pages that are identical for each one. Go to the pages in usa.mywebsite.com and set the canonical url to the ‘mywebsite.com’ page.
To do this, in the backend of your wordpress website, go the the page, scroll down to the bottom where you’ll find ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’ box, hit the advanced tab, and here enter your canonical url.
Here’s a screenshot.