It has been several months since the Search Engines collaborated and announced the “canonical” tag that you can add to your pages and help clean-up all the junk/duplicate pages out there.

While the canonical URL tag itself is very simple (see below), the evaluation of whether or not the tag is working or has an impact on search engine rankings (SERPs) is difficult.

Sample Canonical Tag:

<// link rel="canonical" href="" />
(the two /’s at the beginning would need to be removed when implementing)

We have implemented on the tags on several client websites over the past 2 months and t0-date, have not noticed anything significant.

The canonical tag can be used to help clean-up duplicate referenced homepages, sub-directories or dynamically generated URLs.  Our usage has been limited at this point to helping clean-up duplicate homepages and other minor duplicate content issues related to improper page linking strategies.

The results of implementing the canonical tag have been minimal – not really registering significant changes on our SERP reports or in terms of traffic to the sites that have applied it.  We’re doing a great job of helping Google , Yahoo and MSN do their jobs (spidering & filtering out garbage), but realizing little in return.  Not that much was expected either, but we are still hopeful that the re-indexing and attribution of the tag will help some clients gain a few more ranks from the focus of incoming links and other on-page factors.

Does the Canonical URL Tag work?

Yes and No.  We believe the tag will help clean out the duplicate pages that had previously been included in the search results and more weight applied to the canonical URL version.  At this time, however, it doesn’t appear that the tag is having a profound effect on anything (SERPs or otherwise).

The jury is still out on this one…

Cory Howell