How to Fix Canonical Issues in SEO: Understanding & Resolving URL Problems

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A Canonical issue is an undesirable Search Engine Optimization consequence that can arise if your website is accessed by the search engine or your visitors from different URLs.

This will not only make your work appear as duplicate content to search engines, but it can also make your visitors land on different pages other than the homepage.

Worse still, it can cause the search engine to choose the wrong URL for your homepage, thereby destroying all your SEO efforts.

A canonical issue occurs if your “301 redirects” are not in order or you do not have them altogether.

Let assume your website is: http://

If your 301 redirects are not in order, it can be accessed via:;

http:/; or


A website can have even hundreds of URLs due to different parameters like contact page, home page, feedback, and many others.

The problem arises if the search engine spiders select a URL that is not the homepage for indexing.

You can imagine what can happen if the search engine uses the parameters found on that page to rank your website.

Make sure to fix your canonical issues before search engine spiders see it if you want high rankings.

Your site visitors can be repulsed if they first land on your contact page instead of the homepage.

Remember to maintain Serpbook to study the keywords your visitors use to access your homepage.

It makes the work easier and improves your ranking for Google, Bing, MSN, or any other search engine to crawl on a consolidated URL rather than on a different URL, which leads to the same page.

The most detrimental canonical issue is when you have both www and non-www URLs in your website. This will almost always be associated with an abysmal ranking.

You can resolve this canonical issue by using permanent 301 redirects or link tag with the help of Rel Canonical.

A 301 redirect is a prompt that tells the search engines or your visitors that the page they are trying to access has permanently moved to another location.

Rel Canonical is a tag that lets the search engines know that the page it is accessing is a copy of another page.

However, Rel Canonical does not prevent your visitors from accessing the wrong page.

These procedures will help you to permanently fix the canonical issues so that you can maintain that high ranking you have been hoping for.

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1) When on a Window Server:

If you are hosted by Windows, you need administrative permission to access the server. You can then redirect 301 via 11s as follows;

  1. Open “All programs” and choose administrative tools.
  2. Then select “Internet Information Services.”
  3. Find the domain and right-click it to select “properties.”
  4. Under properties, select “Home Directory.
  5. Move to “a redirection to a URL” and enter the URL you want visitors and search engines to use to access your site.
  6. Finish by clicking “OK
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2) Use Apache 301 redirect:

An Apache server has a file known as htaccess, written as .htaccess. You should use this file to effect a 301 redirect prompt.

The beauty of this file is that it can be edited by many text editors, including notepads. To effect the command, follow these prompts;

  •  Choose “redirect “as the .htaccess prompt.
  • Set the code as “301“.
  • “Code 302‘ is used to redirect the page temporarily; therefore, it is not useful in fixing the canonical issues.
  • You then need to key in the URL you do not need as “/yoursite.html” kindly note the domain name is excluded.
  • Key in the page you want redirected to, for example; “”

Your canonicalization will thus be complete. However if you do not have a www URL, you can;

RewriteEngine “on” by


rewriterule^(.*)$http://www.your site/$1[301,nc]

This command will lead to a permanent 301 redirect to anyone or any engine that tries to enter a non-www. URL. They will be automatically sent to a “www.” version.

3) Coded Redirects:

If you cannot access the server administratively, to make a permanent 301 redirect, you need “coded 301 redirects“.

A code will do a redirect bypassing the already modified headers and directing the bot to the very URL you have chosen for indexing.

For example, if a search engine finds such a code on a contact page, it will not index it until it finds a page without such a code.

These codes are different from one computer language to another;

  • In PHP Language, use;

     <?header(“HTTP/1.1301MovedPermanently”) then

     Header (“Location:”);?>

  • For JSP Language use;

    response.setStatus(301); then

    response.setHeader (“Location”,””) and

    response.setHeader/ “connection”, ” close”)%>

If you are not a programmer, it is important for you to outsource these services because if you mess with a .htaccess file, your website can easily breakdown.

4) Rel Canonical:

Lastly, you can handle the Canonical issue by using Rel Canonical. These are tags that you can add to the <head> section of a page to specify the URL you want to be used in that specific page. 

For example,

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

When the search engines access your website, the Rel Canonical will tell the bot that the slash URL is the URL you have chosen to be indexed. The search engine will drop the others.

Unfortunately, these link tags can not redirect your site visitors since it does not interfere with how your site operates.

To redirect your visitors, you have to rely on other methods of fixing a canonical issue.

Remember you need to add this tag to each and every page of your website apart from the page you want the search engine to index.

The search engines will index only the page which is not tagged.


Choosing the best method to deal with canonicalization will depend on the server you have, your accessibility to the server, and your technical know-how.

Fixing canonical issues is a sure way to boost your SEO and beat your competitors. It is important to ensure the 301 redirects you have on your website are working well.

Test every page of your website to be sure everything is in order. Although a 301 redirect is a permanent prompt, it is important to know how the Google engine and your visitors see your website.

Rel canonical is less complicated but it slows down your website by fractions of a second. Every time you add a page to your website remember to ensure canonization issues will not arise.

Avatar of Sunny Kumar
Sunny Kumar
Hello! I’m Sunny Kumar from New Delhi, India, a tech enthusiast and blogger with an IT degree from IIT-D. My expertise lies in SEO, Cloud Computing, Telecom & Networking, and CEH. I specialize in SEO, WordPress Development, and PC Building. And being a proficient WordPress user, I’m dedicated to delivering quality content and a remarkable user experience.

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