What IS A Canonical Link?
A canonical link, also know as a canonical tag “is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Practically speaking, the canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.” – moz.com
If that was a clear as mud, here’s an example. Let’s say you have a fantastic article on your website, and you decide to also post that article on Medium. There are now two of the exact same articles floating on the Internet. Which one should Google (or other SE’s) choose?
Who Needs To Pay Attention To Canonical Links?
- Anyone who is duplicating articles from their own website to Medium (or visa versa).
- Anyone who is duplicating an article within in their own network of websites. For example, I sometimes duplicate an article from one of my main websites to one of my small niche websites IF the article is a good fit for both.
- Anyone who is allowing their articles to be replicated on someone else’s website.
Why Are Canonical Links Important?
As I said above: There are now two copies of the exact same article floating on the Internet. Which one should Google (or other SE’s) choose?
From my experience, IF you don’t include a canonical link, Google will probably choose Medium because that is the BIGGER authority site. But Google doesn’t like having this problem and you “may” get penalized because of this. Google may not give either site a listing, or it might put your article on page two instead of page one.
AND what if you really wanted that link on your own website?
You should make a decision on each article you publish …
IF Google was to give it a listing, where do you want the traffic to go?
To Your Own Website?
I want ALL Google traffic to go to MY websites. Why? Because I own them. Because I want to build traffic to them. Traffic means more subscribers and more traffic and subscribers means more money.
Some writers want all Google traffic to go to their Medium articles. Why? Because they make most of their money with the Medium Partnership program. They may include links in their Medium articles to their websites, but their focus in on Medium.
How To PROPERLY Create A Canonical Link On Medium
I’ve seen Medium writers add something like:
“This article was originally published on focusonromance.com/top-romance-writers/”
I do this myself because I want my READERS to have a link to my website. Additionally … and THIS IS IMPORTANT … this link is coming from Medium, which is a major “authority” site. The link has juice as far as Google is concerned and you might get a bit of traction out of that.
BUT BUT BUT … that statement is NOT a canonical link!
Here’s how to create a PROPER canonical link ON Medium:
When your story is ready to be published:
1. Click on the hamburger menu button (the three dots)
2. Then click on More Settings
3. On the More Settings Panel, either click on #1 the Advanced Settings Link OR scroll down till you see Advanced Settings.
4. Click on the down symbol.
5. Click on the box under Customize Canonical Link
6. Type or paste URL link to the story on your website.
7. SAVE the link
That’s it. You have created a properly functioning canonical link. You can go ahead and publish your story.
What IF your existing stories don’t have proper canonical links?
LOL, not really. Just follow the same steps from above to EDIT your story. Better late than never.
What IF your existing story already has a Google listing pointing to Medium?
When I was first starting out on Medium, I didn’t know you could create canonical links. Several of my articles were grabbed up by Google and linked to Medium. Many people thought creating the “This article was originally published” link WAS a canonical link. Be clear … it’s NOT!
I really wanted Google to point to my website, so I decided to try adding the canonical links after the fact. ONE out of three of my Google listed articles made the switch over. It took six months. The other two are still stubbornly pointing to Medium.
Give it a try. Nothing will blow up!
Why I Think Letting Google Link To Medium Is A Mistake
If you are making most of your money on Medium, you may think that you can make even more by having Google link to Medium. Abd YES, you MIGHT make more, but it won’t be a lot.
Why? Because MOST of the people seeing the article on Google, and clicking on the link going to Medium are NOT Medium members.
Most non-members won’t bother to jump through the hoops to get past the PAY WALL, because they don’t want to give out their information, and or because they are too lazy. Your article title will have to be incredibly compelling to get them to take action.
Then IF someone DOES go to the trouble, they are still a FREE member and you get? Diddly squat! Yep … next to nothing!
So … if you send them to your own website … you might make a few cents with some Google AdSense ads or sell them a service or a product. You could convince them to signup to your newsletter or get them to click on your PUSH notification request. You might get enough traffic to make monetizing your website worthwhile.
IF Medium ever closes its doors, you will already have all your articles safe and working for you.