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My client is asking me for something I never heard before - canonical links in an RSS feed.

They are producing original content and are going to expose it via RSS so it can be syndicated by other blogs. They want to put canonical links in the feed so that they get SEO credit for the original article. I suggested they just put for everything in the feed "This article was originally published at myblog.com" but are asking for the whole deal <link rel="canonical" href="..."/>.

It doesn't quite seem ethical to me to inject that kind of code in someone else's site. And what happens if the other site already has their own different canonical tag? (rhetorical question)

Is it a standard practice to put <link rel="canonical"/> in RSS feeds? How do other sites handle canonical URLs for syndicated content?

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Placing a canonical link in RSS won't be effective. For a canonical link to work it must be in the <head> section of the document. The RSS feed would be rendered into the body of the document on another site.

Google has been very clear on this point. They ensure that their implementation ignores canonical tags that are not in the proper place. They do so for exactly this reason: They don't want HTML injection to be able to place valid canonical tags in the body of the page.

Here is a Google blog post where they say how they handle canonical tags in the body: 5 common mistakes with rel=canonical

The rel=canonical link tag should only appear in the <head> of an HTML document. Additionally, to avoid HTML parsing issues, it’s good to include the rel=canonical as early as possible in the <head>. When we encounter a rel=canonical designation in the <body>, it’s disregarded.

  • This was my instinct so thanks for finding some authoritative sources that I wasn't able to. So clearly rel="canonical" is not a viable implementation. Is there any other sense where an RSS feed can be marked as "canonical?" – Jeff Jan 10 '15 at 22:49

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