Author: Shei Wah Tan

Have you ever experienced the frustration of not finding your website on Google? Trust me, we’ve been there, and it’s not a fun place to be

We discovered that our client’s website had been removed from Google’s search results. 😱 You’d think that it would be a good time to panic, right? After all, the entire point of the marketing campaign was for audiences to find our client’s website in their Google search. However, instead of panicking, we opted to investigate the root cause.

What did we uncover? Their development team failed to set up the canonical tags for the client’s two international websites, which were similar to each other 🕵️.

For those unfamiliar with the term, canonical tags are bits of HTML code signaling search engines which page version they should index. By index we mean Google places your website in their pool of choices that they can pull up whenever a user searches for a particular query.

If you have identical websites, search engines won’t use all the pages as search results and will instead select which pages to use for indexing.

In our client’s case, one of their international websites was indexed first, and since the second one was practically a duplicate except that it catered to a different country, Google didn’t index it.

Without the correct canonical tags, search engines won’t be able to recognise that your site is different from another similar site, and therefore should be considered for indexing purposes.

Here’s what we did to resolve the issue: 

1. Checked the Canonical Tags:

Using Google Search Console, we analysed our client’s canonical tags and detected several inconsistencies.

Canonical Tag Set-up

Error: Google disregarded the user-defined canonical tag and opted for a different URL as the canonical.  The search engine saw the two websites as duplicate pages, and there was no point in indexing our client’s website because they already had similar pages in their indexing system. 

Note: A canonical tag informs search engines that a particular URL signifies the definitive version of a page.

2. Fixed the Mistakes:

Having pinpointed the errors, we made the necessary modifications to ensure our canonical tags pointed to the correct URLs so Google could index the websites.

Solution: Insert a <link> element with the attribute rel= “canonical” into the <head> section of two duplicate websites, directing it to the correct URL. Here’s an 

example:

Website 1

<html>
<head>
<title>Explore the world of dresses</title>
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://website1.com” />
<!– other elements –>
</head>
<!– rest of the HTML –>

Website 2

<html>
<head>
<title>Explore the world of dresses</title>
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://website2.com” />
<!– other elements –>
</head>
<!– rest of the HTML –>

3. Monitored the Results:

After making the changes, we closely watched Google’s index to see if our website reappeared. And guess what? It did!

The lesson here is this: something seemingly minor as a canonical tag setup can significantly impact your online visibility. Review your canonical tag setup if you’re running a B2B or e-commerce website and facing similar challenges. The solution is right in front of you!

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