How to set up canonical tags in Wix
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Fact Checked by: Dr. Marie Haynes
What is a canonical URL/tag?
A canonical is an HTML link element used by webmasters to indicate a ‘preferred’ or ‘canonical’ version of a web page. Essentially, you’re telling search engines that you have the same content on multiple URLs of your Wix site and one should be the primary version for indexing.
The main purpose of using a canonical is to avoid issues with indexing duplicate or near-duplicate content in search engines by signalling that just one page is the most representative from a set of duplicate items. This is important for both clean indexation and consolidation of link signals should a set of duplicate pages each have inbound links pointing to them. Why is that important? Well, Google has indicated that each and every page that can be found within Google’s index factors into the overall quality assessment of your site. By removing duplication and serving only unique, high-value pages, you improve the likelihood of your Wix site being a higher quality one in the eyes of Google (yay!). Consolidating link signals, meanwhile, ensures the primary page is as authoritative as it can be from a link equity perspective, also improving your Wix SEO!
Basically, a canonical tag helps ensure your preferred Wix page is shown in the search results as opposed to leaving it up to Google to sort out what is duplicate and what is original. Large amounts of duplicate content can create crawling and quality issues for your Wix site without the proper use of canonicalization.
Did you know? Canonicals were first introduced back in February 2009 (source) and have traditionally been a useful ‘tool’ for webmasters to leverage.
Best Practices: How should canonicals be used?
A canonical is used to indicate to a search engine that you have a set of duplicate pages on your site and that you wish for only one of these essentially identical pages to be shown in search.
example.com/shoes/111 and example.com?shoes111 are theoretically them same page.
m.example.com/article123 and example.com/article123 are also the same.
Note that minor changes in content or filtering do not make a make a page unique. For example, an e-commerce site might have identical pages with the same page title, description, and content for a set of the same type of shoe product available in different colours or sizes. While the colour or size of the shoe may be different on each URL, the content is otherwise identical. A unique page, on the other hand, has standalone value. It is recommended that you select the original, most complete and useful page as your canonical.
Say, for example, the colour black is the most popularly sought-after shoe colour in the example above. You could make the black shoe page the canonical version by pointing a canonical tag towards on it on the other colour-version URLs. When a user searches for this particular shoe, Google will surface that version of the page and consolidate any link signals pointing to the other colour versions.
Keep in mind Google could still serve the more relevant version of the page if the query demands it; in this example, if a user searches for the yellow version of the shoe specifically on your site, it likely will surface that page. If this happens, the canonical is likely still working as intended; keep in mind that canonicals do not work the same as no-index directives for the non-canonical versions of a page.
You should also provide a canonical for each URL, even if you’re simply ‘self-canonicalizing’ the page. This may seem redundant if there is currently only one version available with no duplicates, but trust us in saying it can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Common Problems with Canonicals
Every URL that is indexed has a canonical, whether you’ve chosen to set one or not (source). If you do not want Google to make this choice on your behalf (which is not recommended), it makes sense to invest time into setting these to your choosing in order to avoid unwanted indexing behaviour and potentially detrimental effects on your Wix site’s ability to rank well. Please keep in mind that this is your suggested canonical. Google can select a more appropriate one if they see fit. You are providing a strong hint that will be likely be honoured, but it is not guaranteed. To learn more about how Google chooses a canonical URL, you can check out their canonical resource.
You should also ensure that you are canonicalizing near-similar or identical pages and not a set of pages that are loosely related if not totally unrelated, as Google will often ignore canonicals in cases where content significantly differs from one page to another.
Finally, you should make sure to only use canonical tag per page as Google will see the conflicting signals if there is more than one, ignore them both, and choose a canonical as they see fit. Wix will ensure this is the case by accepting only one canonical URL. The canonical tag will be embedded in the header (not the body!) of your Wix pages and will be formatted like so:
<link rel=“canonical” href=“canonicalurl.com”>
How to Change the Canonical URL in Wix
As it stands, there is no way to edit the canonical URL for a Wix blog post (our understanding is that functionality is coming soon). However, setting a canonical can be easily done for a Wix page.
Within the site editor, click on the current page in the top left corner and scroll down to manage pages:
This will bring up a list of pages, which will bring up an ellipsis icon as you hover over them:
When clicked, an SEO (Google) option will come up. If you select that option, you’ll see the following window:
Press the “Advanced SEO” tab along the top and scroll down to find the canonical URL field, as shown above.
Before you change the canonical URL, ask the following questions:
Am I sure I want this URL shown in search and not the page I’m editing?
Am I linking to the primary version of this page (either on your site or another?)
Is the content on this page more or less the same as the URL I’m setting the canonical to?
Am I absolutely sure I have the correct canonical URL? Be sure it is the right https/http, www/non-www version. You want to avoid choosing a canonical URL that then needs to redirect to the actual canonical version.
Matthew Baker is a Marketing and Business Administration graduate of Algonquin College. Born in Toronto and later moving to Ottawa, Ontario, his passion for adventure as a young adult has led him to many corners of the world. While living overseas, he worked with a leading eCommerce agency specializing in organic search. Naturally, he found his way back to the digital space in Canada and is at home here with the Marie Haynes Consulting team. One of his many passions includes eCommerce projects and he also loves the fact that he has the opportunity to learn something new each and every day. Matthew loves sports, fitness, craft beer, and travel. In no particular order.