The canonical tags are used to demonstrate to search engines that there are multiple versions of a Squarespace website page exist and which one should be used for indexing and ranking. Also, it helps your Squarespace website to avoid issues related to duplicate content - the same or similar content that appears across multiple URLs of your Squarespace website. In most cases, it’s created unknowingly, on ecommerce websites especially.
Keep in mind that Google does not like duplicate content on websites - mostly because it creates a bad user experience. Just try to imagine a user performing a search session and seeing 5 results for his search term that contain exactly the same content. Using canonical tags will prevent users from seeing such a messy result and will demonstrate to Google what pages matter. It’s also good in terms that Google will properly index your Squarespace website.
Meta robots tags, in their turn, are used to demonstrate to search engines what pages should actually appear in search results, and also whether they should follow the links on those pages.
How to implement canonical tag on your Squarespace website
Squarespace adds proper canonical tags on all of our website’s pages which is really useful in avoiding duplicate content issues that are related to things like www vs. non-www, http vs. https, and trailing slash vs. non-trailing slash URLs.
But there’s also a downside of it. As canonical tags all become part of the core HTML, there’s no way to edit them through the agency of your Squarespace website dashboard. The good news here is that you’re running an average and not really big website, there’s no actual need to do this.
On the other hand, implementing meta robots tag to your Squarespace website is an easy-to-fulfill task. To do it, you need to go to the Pages section, click the gear icon and go to the Advanced section.
Which is better canonical tag or 301
One of the most popular questions that comes to mind in terms of your Squarespace website’s SEO strategy is whether canonical tags pass link equity like 301 redirects do. And the answer here is yes, most often, they do. But you should keep in mind that canonical tags and 301 redirects generate really different results for search engine crawlers and your Squarespace website visitors.
For example, if you want to use 301 redirect to redirect your Squarespace website users from page a to page b, they will be taken to page b automatically without seeing page a at all. And if you choose to rel-canonical page a to page b, then search engines will know that the page b is canonical, but real Squarespace website visitors will get an opportunity to see both versions. So you’ve got to make sure that the solution you choose for your Squarespace site matches your preferred outcome.
Canonical SEO strategies
There are several strategies that you may use for canonicalization of your Squarespace website. The most common practice here is to use rel=canonical tag - it indicates the prioritization of a particular page to Google. This canonical tag can be found in the HTML header of your Squarespace website and it explains to search engines that this is the only version of the page they need to pay attention to.
Although this method seems the most obvious and commonly used, there are other ways to make a canonical page. Companies tend to find new solutions to canonicalize their websites depending on the particular use case. What is critical here is to pay attention to how this single line of code is implemented to their websites. There are lots of stories about companies who accidentally embedded the code in the wrong place at their websites and canonicalized their whole website to one single page or the similar stories about applying the canonical tag improperly.
In case you’ve got an opportunity to work with your website’s code, you’d better pay a lot of attention to sitewide headers. You’ve got to be sure that the canonical tag is placed in the header that only impacts the page you need to perform any changes to. In some cases, it might be a good decision to pair your rel=canonical tags with rel=alternate tags. This combination of tags allows Google to understand where the alternate version of your site is situated. And in such occasions like when you use mobile-designated versions of your website instead of responsive design, this combination might work especially well. This also creates a better experience as Google strats better understand how the pages on your website relate to each other.
Canonical URL checker
If you want to improve your Squarespace website’s SEO performance in search, you might want to check the work of your canonical tags. And here’s what you need to find out after you perform your audit:
- If your Squarespace site’s page has a canonical tag
- If the canonical tag points to the right page of your Squarespace website
- If the pages of your website are all crawable and indexable
The most common mistake occuring on websites is to point the canonical tag at a website’s URL that is either blocked by robots.txt, or was set to noindex. This situation may end up in getting mixed or confusing signals by search engines. Let’s review the most popular ways to audit your Squarespace site and find out that the canonical tags work just fine.
Use view-source option
In most browsers, there’s an opportunity to right-click to perform a view-source. You can also simply type it into a search bar:
Where example should be replaced by your domain name. In the code you’ll see after that, look for the canonical tag in the <head>. If it’s not there, you’d better be sure it’s created.
Apply special tools
There’s also an option to use some SEO toolbar like MOZ, for example, that will demonstrate you easily the canonical tag on the given page of your Squarespace site. To use the toolbar, install it and after the installation is done, go to the Page analysis tab and click on "General Attributes" to view any canonical information.
Apply software solutions to audit in bulk
Most SEO audit tools for websites offer the option of canonical tags audit. Check the tool you prefer for your Squarespace site and it will be there.
Duplicate, Google chose different canonical than user
In case you’ve chosen to use Google Search Console coverage report to check if canonical tags on your website work fine, then it’s time to review some common mistakes that might be connected to canonical tags on your Squarespace website. Here they are:
- Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical. This one occurs when Google considers some page to be duplicate content, but this page was not clearly marked with a canonical tag. As a result, this page was excluded from the index by Google as it seems to the robot that this particular page should not be canonical. This issue can be resolved by marking the correct canonical for every URL that is crawled on your website. And to find out which page was chosen as canonical by Google, simply review the URL in the Search console.
- Duplicate, Submitted URL Not Selected as Canonical. This problem has a lot in common with the one described above, the only exception here is that in this case you explicitly asked Google to index this particular URL, maybe by means of submitting it to your XML sitemap. This can be fixed the same way as we’ve described in the previous paragraph - mark the correct canonical URL explicitly. Also, make sure only canonical pages are included to your XML sitemap.
- Duplicate, Google Chose Different Canonical Than User. This issue occurs when your Squarespace site’s page has a rel=canonical link in place, but Google does not agree with it and chooses some other URL to be indexed as canonical on your site. To fix this, inspect the URL to make sure Google selected the correct URL as canonical. If you agree with Google's choice, change the rel=canonical link. Otherwise, it’s better to work with your website’s architecture to decrease the amount of duplicate content. This will help you hive stronger ranking signals to the page URL you’ve chosen to be canonical.
Keep in mind that preventing mistakes is better than fixing them. Clear and understandable architecture will provide a smooth work of search robots and clean Search Console’s Index Coverage report. But if mistakes occasionally happen to be on your website, it’s always better to look through the report to get a better understanding of why they’ve happened and how to avoid them in the future.
Multiple domains on Squarespace
According to Squarespace, using multiple domains for your Squarespace site won’t hurt its SEO. Squarespace uses canonical tags to prevent your website from being penalized by search engines for duplicate content. Canonicals help redirect multiple domains to one primary domain.
Don’t be afraid of connecting multiple domains to your Squarespace website as it only gives your audience a lot more opportunities to find you. When you start using multiple domains, you’ll be given a chance to choose the primary domain that will serve as the main address of your website - no matter what exact domain a user will visit. Thanks to canonical tags, you are free to create and connect multiple domains to your Squarespace website which will help you get more valuable traffic and prevent search engines from thinking that you’ve got duplicate content on your Squarespace website.