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How to Fix a Broken Canonical Tag in BigCommerce

If you’re a BigCommerce user who is facing issues with broken canonical tags, it’s essential to understand what they are and why they are important for SEO. This article will guide you through the process of identifying and fixing broken canonical tags in BigCommerce. Let’s dive in and unlock the secrets of resolving this issue effectively.

Understanding Canonical Tags in BigCommerce

Before discussing how to fix a broken canonical tag, let’s first grasp the concept of canonical tags. Canonical tags are HTML elements used to indicate the preferred version of a webpage when there are multiple variations of it available. They play a crucial role in maintaining website structure and providing search engines with clear signals on which page to index and rank.

Canonical tags provide a solution to the problem of duplicate content. Duplicate content occurs when there are multiple URLs that lead to the same or very similar content. This can happen for various reasons, such as different URL parameters, faceted navigation, or product filtering. Without canonical tags, search engines may view these duplicate pages as separate entities, which can dilute the SEO value and potentially cause content duplication issues.

What is a Canonical Tag?

In simple terms, a canonical tag tells search engines that a specific webpage is the primary or original version while other versions are duplicates or variants. It helps search engines understand which page should ideally appear in search results and prevents potential indexing issues. By implementing canonical tags correctly, you can improve SEO optimization and avoid content duplication penalties.

Let’s take an example to understand the concept better. Suppose you have an e-commerce website selling shoes. You have a category page for “Running Shoes” and a separate page for a specific brand of running shoes called “Nike Running Shoes.” Both pages have similar content, as the Nike Running Shoes page is a subset of the Running Shoes category. In this case, you can use a canonical tag on the Nike Running Shoes page, indicating that the primary version is the Running Shoes category page. This way, search engines will understand that the Nike Running Shoes page is a variant and should not be indexed separately.

Why are Canonical Tags Important for SEO?

Canonical tags are vital for SEO because they consolidate the ranking power of multiple pages into a single authoritative version. Without canonical tags, search engines may index duplicate or similar pages separately, diluting the SEO value and potentially causing content duplication issues. By utilizing canonical tags, you can consolidate ranking signals and guide search engines towards the most relevant and valuable version of your website’s content.

Additionally, canonical tags help prevent keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on your website target the same keyword or topic. This can confuse search engines and make it difficult for them to determine which page should rank for a particular query. By implementing canonical tags, you can consolidate the ranking potential of these pages and ensure that the most appropriate page appears in search results.

How Canonical Tags Work in BigCommerce

In the context of BigCommerce, canonical tags are used to address situations where products or categories share similar content. For example, if you have different URLs pointing to the same product or category due to faceted navigation or product filtering, canonical tags can resolve any resulting duplicate content issues. BigCommerce automatically generates canonical tags to help search engines understand the preferred version of specific pages.

When you create a product or category in BigCommerce, the platform automatically generates canonical tags based on the page’s URL. These canonical tags are included in the HTML code of the page, signaling to search engines that the generated URL is the preferred version. This ensures that search engines index and rank the correct page, avoiding any confusion caused by duplicate or similar content.

It’s important to note that while BigCommerce generates canonical tags automatically, you can also manually override them if needed. This gives you the flexibility to customize canonical tags for specific pages, ensuring that search engines understand your preferred version even in complex scenarios.

In conclusion, canonical tags are essential for maintaining website structure, improving SEO optimization, and avoiding content duplication issues. By understanding how canonical tags work and implementing them correctly in BigCommerce, you can guide search engines towards the most relevant and valuable versions of your website’s content, ultimately enhancing your online visibility and organic search rankings.

Identifying a Broken Canonical Tag in BigCommerce

Now that we have a good understanding of canonical tags, let’s explore how to identify a broken canonical tag in your BigCommerce store. Recognizing the signs will enable you to take swift action and maintain optimal SEO performance.

When it comes to managing your website’s SEO, ensuring the correct implementation of canonical tags is crucial. A broken canonical tag can lead to various issues, such as duplicate content problems and a negative impact on your organic search rankings. Let’s dive deeper into the common signs of a broken canonical tag and the tools you can use to identify them.

Common Signs of a Broken Canonical Tag

Identifying a broken canonical tag is essential for maintaining the integrity of your website’s SEO. Here are some common signs that indicate a broken canonical tag:

  • Multiple versions of the same page appearing in search engine results: If you notice that different URLs of the same page are showing up in search engine results, it could be a sign of a broken canonical tag. This can confuse search engines and dilute the ranking potential of your content.
  • Inconsistent or incorrect canonical URLs being indexed: When search engines index your webpages, they rely on canonical tags to understand the preferred URL for a particular page. If the canonical URLs are inconsistent or incorrect, it can lead to indexing issues and confusion.
  • Fluctuations in organic search traffic or keyword rankings: A broken canonical tag can impact your website’s organic search traffic and keyword rankings. If you notice sudden fluctuations or inconsistencies in these metrics, it’s worth investigating whether a broken canonical tag is the culprit.
  • Unexpected page duplication issues: Duplicate content can harm your website’s SEO efforts, and a broken canonical tag can contribute to this problem. If you come across unexpected instances of page duplication, it’s essential to check if a broken canonical tag is responsible.

Tools to Help Identify Broken Canonical Tags in BigCommerce

Identifying broken canonical tags in your BigCommerce store can be made easier with the help of various tools and techniques. Here are some recommended approaches:

  • Inspecting the page source code: One way to identify broken canonical tags is by inspecting the HTML source code of your webpages. Look for the presence of canonical tags and ensure they are correctly implemented and point to the desired canonical URL. This manual inspection can help you catch any issues that might have been overlooked.
  • SEO auditing tools: Utilize SEO auditing tools like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb to crawl your website and identify pages with canonical tag issues. These tools can provide detailed reports and highlight any inconsistencies or errors in the implementation of canonical tags. They can also help you identify pages that are missing canonical tags altogether.
  • Google Search Console: Access the Coverage report in Google Search Console to identify any canonical tag-related issues detected by Google. This report can offer valuable insights into pages with indexing errors or inconsistencies. Google Search Console can also provide information on the number of indexed pages and any issues related to canonical tags that need attention.

By utilizing these tools and techniques, you can effectively identify and address any broken canonical tags in your BigCommerce store. Regularly monitoring and maintaining the integrity of your canonical tags will help ensure that search engines properly index and rank your webpages, leading to improved SEO performance.

Reasons for a Broken Canonical Tag in BigCommerce

Now that we know how to identify broken canonical tags, let’s explore the common reasons behind their occurrence in a BigCommerce store. By understanding these causes, you can take proactive steps to prevent future issues.

Incorrect Implementation of Canonical Tags

Inaccurate or incomplete implementation of canonical tags can lead to broken tags. It’s crucial to review your implementation and ensure that the correct canonical URLs are specified for each page. Any mistakes or inconsistencies can confuse search engines and result in broken or misinterpreted tags.

One common mistake in implementing canonical tags is forgetting to include the full URL. For example, instead of using “https://www.example.com/page”, some may only include “/page” as the canonical URL. This can cause confusion for search engines and result in broken tags.

Another issue that can arise from incorrect implementation is using the wrong URL as the canonical URL. This can happen when there are multiple versions of a page, such as HTTP and HTTPS, and the wrong version is specified as the canonical URL. It’s important to carefully review and select the correct URL to avoid broken tags.

Changes in URL Structure or Site Migration

URL structure changes, website migrations, or platform switches can also lead to broken canonical tags. When altering your website’s structure, make sure to update the canonical tags accordingly. Failure to do so may result in outdated or incorrect URLs being stored within your canonical tags.

During a site migration, it’s crucial to redirect old URLs to their new counterparts and update the canonical tags to reflect the new URLs. Failure to do so can result in broken tags and loss of search engine visibility for your pages.

Additionally, when making changes to the URL structure, it’s important to consider the impact on internal linking. If the internal links on your website still point to the old URLs, search engines may encounter conflicting signals and struggle to determine the correct canonical URL.

Issues with Third-Party Apps or Plugins

If you utilize third-party apps or plugins on your BigCommerce store, it’s essential to ensure their compatibility with canonical tags. Incompatible or poorly coded apps can interfere with canonical tag implementation, leading to broken tags or conflicting directives. Regularly update and review your installed apps to mitigate potential issues.

When installing a new app or plugin, it’s important to thoroughly test its compatibility with canonical tags. Some apps may automatically add their own canonical tags or modify existing ones, leading to conflicts and broken tags. It’s crucial to review the documentation or reach out to the app developer to ensure proper integration with canonical tags.

Furthermore, when updating apps or plugins, it’s important to review any changes made to the canonical tag implementation. Updates may introduce new features or changes that can impact the functionality of canonical tags. Stay vigilant and regularly monitor your app updates to avoid any issues.

Fixing a Broken Canonical Tag in BigCommerce

At this stage, we’ve covered the foundations of canonical tags, identified broken tags, and understood their root causes. It’s now time to delve into the process of fixing a broken canonical tag in BigCommerce. Following these steps, you can rectify the issue and regain control over your website’s SEO performance.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Broken Canonical Tag

1. Identify the broken canonical tag: Utilize the methods mentioned earlier to identify pages with broken canonical tags.

2. Update the canonical tag URL: Access each page with a broken canonical tag and replace it with the correct URL. Ensure that you specify the preferred version of the page.

3. Verify the changes: Validate the updated canonical tags by examining the page source code or utilizing SEO audit tools. Confirm that the new tags are correctly implemented and reflect the desired canonical URLs.

4. Submit updated XML sitemap: Once you’ve fixed broken canonical tags, update your XML sitemap and submit it to search engines. This step ensures that search engines re-crawl your website and recognize the updated canonical URLs.

Using BigCommerce’s Built-in Tools to Fix Canonical Tags

BigCommerce provides built-in features and functionalities to help you manage canonical tags effectively. Here are three key tools:

  • Canonical URL settings: Access the BigCommerce control panel and navigate to the SEO section. Utilize the “Canonical URL settings” to specify the preferred URL for your products and categories.
  • Redirect Manager: The Redirect Manager allows you to create redirects for outdated or incorrect URLs. By setting up 301 redirects, you can guide search engines and visitors to the correct canonical URL.
  • SEO-friendly URL structure: Configure your BigCommerce store’s URL structure to ensure that it is SEO-friendly and supports accurate canonical tag implementation.

By leveraging these tools and following the suggested steps, you can effectively fix broken canonical tags in your BigCommerce store and maintain optimal SEO performance. Remember, the key is to proactively monitor and address any potential issues to ensure the accuracy and consistency of your canonical tags.