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I have seen a major website have more than 2 canonical tags on certain pages.



Here's the page URL:

http://www.example.com/en_GB/shop/details.cfm?R=PRODUCT23:en_GB

Here's the first canonical tag, in the <head>:

<link href="http://www.example.com/category/en_GB/shop/details.cfm?R=PRODUCT23:en_GB" rel="canonical"/>

It adds the /category/ directory and the pages design looks different (colors are branded toward that category) but has the same content.

And lower down, still in the <body>, is the second canonical tag:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/en_US/shop/details.cfm" /> 

Instead of the product page, this points to the general parent category of the US shop (instead of the UK one).



This only happens on a few of their hundreds of pages, which are typically product pages. Google reccomends putting the canonical in the <head>, because Matt Cutts explains that it can be abused and injected in the <body> maliciously.

I assumed it was a mistake/bug of the CMS, since by the definition itself, there can be only one canon[ical].

But is there a valid reason for doing so?

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Just fixed a similar issue on my site. I had the correct canonical tag in the head and then another in the body pointing to my homepage(on every page in my main URL). I've been having a very hard time getting indexed at all. I'm wondering if this is why as I have an aged domain with a PR3 I'd expect to get at least some of my URLs indexed. –  user24304 Mar 17 '13 at 20:38

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

No. The canonical element is supposed to resolve duplicate content issues on your site stemming from multiple URLs that pull up the same content. Telling the search engines to go to two different places off the same page totally defeats the purpose.

My guess is the company is having some issues internally. It might be their CMS builds composite pages from two sources and mistakenly brings in the rel tag from each page. It's also possible their web folks are completely missing the point of the canonical tag...I've seen it go both ways.

I would be fascinated to see what Google does in response to something like this. Do they honor the first canonical, the second, neither and drop a Penguin on the offending site?

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