A few days back, I was reading an article on SearchEngineJournal by author Neil Patel. After reading first three paragraphs, I realized that I have already read that article few weeks back but not on SearchEngineJournal.
Initially, I thought that Neil might have written a guest post on SearchEngineJournal, but something else was going on in my mind.
After brainstorming and internet searching, I finally found the same article. It got published on Neil Patel’s own blog Quicksprout.com few weeks back (because I have subscribed to Quicksprout’s newsletter).
I again searched that article on Google with ‘title name’ + ‘Searchenginejournal’ query. I tried searching for 15 minutes but couldn’t find it.
That day I realized how these blogs are popular with hundreds of backlinks and thousands of shares for their blog posts.
They are actually using cross-domain rel canonical tags and syndicating their website content on other popular sites without any harm. Even, they are getting a huge number of backlinks, social shares and top rankings for those articles in search results.
I spent my whole day understanding this and after trying this trick multiple times, I am sharing the secret in this article.
What is Rel Canonical tag?
Rel canonical URL tag, is an HTML element that helps webmaster prevent duplicate content issues on their website. It specifies the “preferred” or “canonical” version of a web page which eventually helps in website SEO.
Check this article explaining URL canonicalization and rel canonical tag best practices for SEO
Use Rel Canonical tag Cross-domain for Content Syndication
There are many authors who write high-quality content on their blog and publish it on various other high authority websites for content marketing. Is this the correct strategy to follow? Don’t they face the duplicate content issue?
Well, there is a content syndication technique which very few marketers know about. It is called Cross-domain rel canonical tagging. This technique is totally different than the dead (not completely) guest blogging.
In cross domain rel=canonical, you are increasing eyeballs on your content by publishing it on different high authority blogs without any duplicate content issue. All the SEO to that content published on other website is also passed to your original content only.
Let’s understand this through an example.
Neil Patel from Quicksprout published this article on his own blog.
Url – http://www.quicksprout.com/2014/04/18/what-is-a-good-link-profile-and-how-do-you-get-one/
Neil copied the article from Quicksprout blog and posted the same on Search Engine Journal.
Url – http://www.searchenginejournal.com/good-link-profile-get-one/104409/
If you look at this article in search results using query – “What Is a “Good Link Profile” and How Do You Get One? search Engin journal“.
This search engine journal’s page is not present in search results. WHY? Let’s find out.
Now to check the last caching date of above search engine journal URL, Enter query –
Whoa!!! You were looking for SEJ’s page caching date and you ended up on Quicksprout’s page. How did this happen?
Is this some kind of a Magic? YES, the magic of rel canonical cross-domain linking.
Google is actually caching the original source of that article at quicksprout.com.
Now go to the page source of that search engine journal’s article page and check for rel=”canonical” using Ctrl+F, see, the canonical tag is present in the source code of the web page.
You can see the canonical tag at search engine journal’s page code in above image, the link is pointing out to the original article at Quicksprout.
Key takeaways from above examples:
1. The duplicate version of the article at search engine journal website is neither getting cached or indexed nor it is appearing in search results.
2. The rel=canonical tag present at the page is pointing out to the Quicksprout URL, telling Google that this is the original source of content that should get index and rank in search results.
3. Google will pass the value of all the backlinks for Search engine journal’s article to the Quicksprout article.
Check out this useful whiteboard friday video by Rank Fishkin from MOZ about the use of cross-domain rel=canonical tag for content syndication.
Advantages of Using Cross-domain rel canonical for Content Syndication
1. Number of readers for your content, build your author rank and followers through content marketing
2. The original source of content is preferred by Google for indexing and ranking in search results
3. Get value of all the backlinks pointing out to your syndicated content on different websites, this will increase the number of quality backlinks for your site
4. Whenever your syndicated content is shared on social media, your original content will get the social share benefits & numbers. This will increase the content popularity among readers, which results in more number of social shares and backlinks
How to Implement Cross-domain rel canonical in WordPress?
In WordPress, self-canonical is already implemented on all the website pages. If you are syndicating content from some other website and publishing it on your website by giving rel canonical link to the original source then you need to follow the below steps:
If you are using very popular Yoast SEO plugin then this is a one minute job.
Go to the Yoast SEO metabox at the end of the post and click on advanced tab of Yoast SEO metabox.
You can see the Canonical URL field in the end. Yoast SEO plugin supports cross-domain canonical linking so you just need to put the URL here and publish your post.
Key Points to Remember
1. You can tag only the exact same pages or similar pages. A slight difference in acceptable but tagging completely different pages is not recommended.
2. Rel=Canonical is a page level tagging and should be implemented on each page of a website. Implementing only at the home page for the whole website doesn’t work here.
3. Always ask your content publishers to user rel=canonical tag on their website, If they are using content originally published by you
4. To handle paginated content on a website, It is recommended to use a rel=canonical tag to a “view all” page OR use rel=prev/next
5. Using the rel=canonical tag on the original content page is also fine. Google understand self-referencing canonical tags and there is no harm in using that
6. Don’t use multiple rel=canonical tags on a page otherwise Google will ignore all the tags
7. Do not use no index robots meta tags or block the page with robots.txt where rel=canonical is implemented otherwise search engine will not be able to crawl or read your canonical tag on that page.
Canonical tags are very powerful tools and when they are used cross-domain for content syndication, their power just doubles because then they are not only saving you from content duplication issues but also building backlinks for your website and getting social shares for you.
Please tell us if you find any difficulty in implementing this on your website. Comment in the below section if you have any suggestions or queries relatedto this post.