I'm afraid I couldn't understand the information available about this feature. A canonical link should be the "canonical" or "preferred" version of a web page. An alternate link specifies languages and optional geographic restrictions, according to sources.

With that information, I assume the non-regional version of my website, which displays content in English, should be the only canonical page set. The others should be alternate. For example,, should be alternate, while shall be the canonical page.

But there's something that makes me doubt this since I've looked through some popular websites. Now, I'll note that they tend to treat the as the U.S. adaptation of their page. Because of that, I believe the canonical link of each of their pages changes due to the selected region. For example, when visiting the, the canonical link is, while the alternate ones are,, etc. When visiting, however, the canonical link is suddenly And no matter which the canonical link is, it is among the alternate ones in every case. is both the canonical and an alternate version, which confuses me.

How exactly should these features be used? And shouldn't the canonical link be only canonical and not an alternate one as well? Is it necessary to specify a canonical link if only one version of a particular page exists, such as a page where the visitor selects their region?

1 Answer 1


The canonical version of a page is the authoritative version for the given subject, traditionally the english version of the page where the page has been translated into multiple languages, but not always.

The rel=alternate on the other hand is used to denote language or regional specificity for the given page.

While both canonical and rel=alternate tags are used and while Google can use both to identify which page to return in search results and in which regional version of Google to return the results, they perform separate distinct functions. The canonical tag is used to suggest to Google which URL should be considered canonical and all other duplicates of the page will be considered just that, duplicates.

It should be noted however that there is no inherent requirement to add canonical and rel=alternate meta tags to your content as Google and most other search engines will automatically assess which pages are canonical, which are duplicates, and which are regional or language specific.

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