How To Set the Canonical URL for a Post or Page in WordPress

April 18, 2012 · 24 comments

in SEO, WordPress

Define the “Original Source” To Protect SEO
Using the Canonical Setting

When ever we utilize a piece of duplicate content – whether on our own site or cross-site – its important to consider what we tell Google about that piece.

If you are reblogging a piece of content, the canonical field is the “SEO correct” way to tell Google that the original lists “over there”.

Depending on what you are doing this may or may not replace the need to include an in post dofollow link.

The WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin (which replaces the older AIO, Platinum and Headspace SEO plugins) makes this super simple.

Simply fill in the Canonical URl field with the URL link to the original copy of the post (regardless of whether it is on your site or someone elses).  Piece of cake!

When republishing the same piece on your own site over and over – such as with a monthly webinar announcement – it’s actually better to also use the “noindex” setting in addition. That tells Google to essentially skip over the piece and in that way only “see” the original in the SERPs.

Sometimes the announcements, schedules, etc that we publish routinely are for our readers… and very confusing to Google. Using canonical and (where appropriate) noindex will help Google understand.

There are other important uses for canonical at a site-wide level, however hopefully this post makes it easy for you to to understand the in-post settings and why they matter.

Canonical, with or without noindex, is your friend in minimizing duplicate content problems (some of which are inherent to WordPress and other CMS systems).

~ Kimberly Castleberry ~
Simple Tech Tips For Marketing


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Navin Kunwar April 18, 2012 at 1:35 am

Currently im using 303 to redirect all 404 pages, btw how much time google takes to deindex those 303 redirected pages ?. does WordPress themes 404 page sends 404 status or just page not found messages ?


Rosemary O'Shaughnessy April 18, 2012 at 5:07 am

Hi Kim,

Thanks for sharing this tip , I always like to drop in to your blog and see your latest updates and advice. take care Rosemary
Rosemary O’Shaughnessy invites you to read…Local Business People……..2 Tools to Help Productivity on the Move !!!My Profile


Anne Bain April 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Hi Kim
Thanks for the information. Just to clarify, whenever I am posting another person’s article I have to go into YOAST each time to put in the canonical url?


Kim Castleberry April 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Anne, if you are republishing complete articles without framing them in paragraphs of text you have wrote (which still requires citation), then using canonical would be the correct answer.


Anne Bain April 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Hi Kim

Wow that was quick thank you for your reply! I don’t do this often and have always cited the source so it is good to know better to use the canonical url in YOAST. I am launching a new travel website and will most probably use a lot more cited information on that one.


Kim Castleberry April 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hey Anne, I would use the canonical in addition to citing rather than as a replacement for it. The reason for this is that your reader can not see the canonical (it’s only for Google) and citing would be needed to ensure you don’t create something that “looks” (to the reader) like plagiarism. You’re definitely on the right track!


Gabrielle April 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for this useful guide. Rel Canonical is one of the things that SEOmoz said could be brought up at a job interview for an seo position. I bet mentioning Yoast will get you an advantage over other applicants.


Elena April 20, 2012 at 2:36 am

This is marvelous! I didn’t know these tricks about duplicate content. Everybody said “pay attention when you quote” and stuff like that, but now that I’ve read your article I’m not afraid of being penalized in Google SERP :D


Kim Castleberry April 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I agree, Elena, most people do not understand the mechanics of how to be clear with Google about what you are doing. Fair use laws, give us a nice liberty to do quotations (by citing our source, like when we wrote papers in school), “content originality” which is 30% uniqueness handles the “framing” aspect, and for full duplication canonical lets Google know what’s up. That’s really a remarkable amount of flexibility when you think about it :)


Elena April 23, 2012 at 4:59 am

You couldn’t explain it better, Kim! :) And the key word is “flexibility” – everyone wants it. Thanks for additional explanation.


Tan April 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

May I is WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin better than All in One SEO Pack?


Elena Anne April 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

This is great you really do need to know how to share things in a way that makes everybody happy. For everybody to be happy you must play by Google rules because if Google isn’t happy who is!


Edyta April 24, 2012 at 4:28 am

Hi Kim,

Thanks for sharing these interesting tips. I agree that Google doesn’t like duplicate content and we need to respect it. Can it harm my rankings if I post duplicate articles from time to time?


Suresh Khanal April 24, 2012 at 6:24 am

Do you suggest to use canonical url if I quote one or two paragraph from somebody’s post into my article? And what if there are a number of citations? Looking forward for your insight.


Jim Antoine May 3, 2012 at 4:14 am

Ok you got me again in just a minute.
I read the other article about reblogging and the article sharing idea you had and then searched for “How To Set the Canonical URL for a Post or Page in WordPress”…
Guess what..
Your site came up…
Thank you!


Kim Castleberry May 22, 2012 at 10:02 am

Hey Jim, you gotta be careful, I’m sneaky about popping up in Google every time you turn around! ;)


arafin May 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm

wow, awesome! I won’t do it but curious to know that what will happen stealing the content of other sites and point on them with canonical links?


Kim Castleberry May 22, 2012 at 5:29 am

Arafin, stealing is still stealing if content isn’t licensed for redistribution/reuse. Canonical does not change the law.


Salman May 8, 2012 at 11:42 am

Woah … its really a piece of cake !

Thanks for sharing this useful but short guide with us.


jamie smith May 18, 2012 at 4:08 am

ok, i will try to made this for my blog. until know this quality sharing information about set canonical url.thanks


Khaleef May 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

I have to admit that I never knew what Thesis was referring to with the canonical url. Since I do want to cross post across websites once in a while (but have avoiding doing so because of fear of Google), this is perfect for me!

Thanks again, Kim!


Jimmy May 30, 2012 at 4:21 am

I am going to start a new blog soon, but before i setup everything, i want to know which is the best seo plugin All in one SEO or Yoast ? And how to setup canonical url issue before i get penalize?

Hope i will get some good suggestion from you



Kim Castleberry May 31, 2012 at 11:43 am

Jimmy, you want to use WP SEO by Yoast rather than the older AIO SEO. Then once you’re using it just follow the directions in this post to set up canonical URLs.


Badar November 12, 2012 at 6:45 am

thank you very much looking for this helped me a lot.


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