When a webpage's canonical URL leads to a 404 Not Found error, it signals an issue that may confuse search engines.
Why is this important?
A canonical tag is meant to clarify the primary version of a webpage. If it points to a non-existent page, search engines might disregard the directive and decide on the canonical version themselves, potentially causing content duplication issues.
What does the Optimization check?
This check is activated when any internal link has a canonical tag pointing to a nonexistent 404 Not Found page.
Examples that trigger this Optimization:
Example URL: https://loudinteractive.com/page-a
A canonical tag on this URL directing to another internal page would activate this check:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://loudinteractive.com/page-b" />
If the URL specified in the canonical tag (https://loudinteractive.com/page-b) leads to a 404 error:
HTTP/... 404 Not Found...
How do you resolve this issue?
First, determine if the target of the canonical tag should be a 404. If not, restore it. If so, update the current page’s canonical tag to self-refer or point to a functional URL. These situations often require individual attention.