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How to add Canonical Tags in WordPress for SEO

Canonical tags play a crucial role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by guiding search engines to the preferred version of a page. Adding dynamic canonical tags to your WordPress theme’s header ensures that search engines correctly identify and index your content. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to include dynamic canonical tags using PHP in a typical WordPress theme.

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Identify the Template Files: Determine the template files you want to modify, typically the header.php file in your WordPress theme.

2. Locate the Header Template: Access your WordPress theme files and navigate to the directory containing the header.php file.

3. Edit the Header Template: Open the header.php file and add the following PHP code within the <head> section:

<!– header.php –>

<!– Other head elements –>

$protocol = (isset($_SERVER[‘HTTPS’]) && $_SERVER[‘HTTPS’] === ‘on’) ? ‘https’ : ‘http’;
$host = $_SERVER[‘HTTP_HOST’];
$requestUri = $_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’];
$canonicalUrl = $protocol . ‘://’ . $host . $requestUri;

if (isset($canonicalUrl)) {
echo ‘<link rel=”canonical” href=”‘ . esc_url($canonicalUrl) . ‘” />’;

4. Save and Test: Save the changes to the header.php file and test your WordPress pages. Verify that the canonical tag is dynamically generated for each page.

5. Understanding the Code:

  • The code captures the protocol, host, and request URI.
  • It forms the canonical URL by concatenating these components.
  • The canonical tag is then echoed in the <head> section.

6. Security Considerations:

  • Always sanitize and validate user-generated content to prevent security vulnerabilities.
  • Avoid dynamically including content from untrusted sources.

Conclusion: By following these steps, you ensure that your WordPress site benefits from proper canonicalization, contributing to improved SEO and search engine ranking. Always test changes in a controlled environment and adhere to best practices for a secure and optimized website.