Back home
Mark Shust

Written by Mark Shust, a Certified Magento Developer, Architect & Teacher in Cleveland, Ohio.
Follow me @markshust

Creating canonical URLs for specific pages with Gatsby

April 27, 2019   ·   4 min read  ·   Edit on GitHub

Gatsby has a simple plugin named gatsby-plugin-canonical-urls which sets the base URL used for canonical URLs for your website. Canonical URLs are important, as they tell search engines what the “original” URL was for a specific page or blog post. This helps prevent your website from being penalized for duplicate content.

The problem with this module is that it doesn’t give you the ability to override a canonical URL for a specific page on your Gatsby site. The situation applies when you’d like to take the original blog post made on an external website, and cross-post it into your personal website. Luckily, there’s a really simple solution to this problem.

First, remove the gatsby-plugin-canonical-urls Gatsby plugin (if you previously installed it) by running:

yarn remove gatsby-plugin-canonical-urls

…and replace it with the gatsby-plugin-react-helmet-canonical-urls plugin. You’ll also want to install the Helmet plugin if you haven’t already to provide this ability:

yarn add gatsby-plugin-react-helmet gatsby-plugin-react-helmet-canonical-urls

Next, add the plugin configuration to your gatsby-config.js file and change the siteUrl value to the base canonical URL you want to use for your site.

  ...
  plugins: [
    `gatsby-plugin-react-helmet`,
    {
      resolve: `gatsby-plugin-react-helmet-canonical-urls`,
      options: {
        siteUrl: `https://www.example.com`,
      },
    },
  ]
  ...

At this point, this new plugin will act exactly the same way as the gatsby-plugin-canonical-urls plugin. However, it will give you the ability to extend it even further.

By default, this plugin will add a new canonical tag to your HTML’s head with the following contents:

<link rel="canonical" key="http://www.example.com/about-us/" href="http://www.example.com/about-us/" data-react-helmet="true" />

Let’s make it so that we can use a different canonical URL for a specific blog post.

Open up your seo component located at src/components/seo.js. This is the component that injects SEO tags into your site with React Helmet.

Add the prop:

 function SEO({
+  canonical,
   description,
   lang,
   meta,
   ...

Then, add the link attribute to the Helmet component within this file. We’ll only inject this attribute value if the canonical prop has been passed in, and then we’ll set the rel, key, and href properties:

           <Helmet
             htmlAttributes={{ lang }}
             title={title}
             titleTemplate={overrideTitle ? `%s` : `%s | ${siteTitle}`}
+            link={
+              canonical
+                ? [{ rel: 'canonical', key: canonical, href: canonical }]
+                : []
+            }
             meta={[
               {
                 name: `description`,

Finally, we’ll add that prop as a prop type:

 SEO.propTypes = {
+  canonical: PropTypes.string,
   description: PropTypes.string,
   lang: PropTypes.string,
   meta: PropTypes.array,

Next, we’ll open up the blog template at src/templates/blogs.js, and pass the canonical prop to the SEO component:

         <SEO
           title={post.frontmatter.title}
           description={post.excerpt}
           keywords={post.frontmatter.tags}
+          canonical={post.frontmatter.canonical}
         />

Note that we are passing the value from our blog post frontmatter. We’ll use the name canonical to keep things consistent.

Then, we need to make sure to add that canoncial value coming from our frontmatter into our GraphQL query:

 export const pageQuery = graphql`
   query BlogBySlug($slug: String!) {
     site {
       siteMetadata {
         title
         description
         author
       }
     }
     markdownRemark(fields: { slug: { eq: $slug } }) {
       id
       excerpt(pruneLength: 160)
       html
       frontmatter {
         title
         date(formatString: "MMMM DD, YYYY")
         tags
+        canonical
       }
     }
   }

Finally, we have one last step. Add the value of canonical to your blog post frontmatter:

---
 title: "Post goes here"
 date: "2019-04-27T12:00:00.000Z"
+canonical: "https://your-original-blog.com/post-goes-here"
---

Note that anytime you add a field to frontmatter, you need to restart the gatsby server in order for updates to take affect. Now, when you visit https://www.example.com/post-goes-here (or whatever URL the above post resolves to), the following canonical URL will now be your new value, derived from frontmatter:

<link rel="canonical" key="https://your-original-blog.com/post-goes-here" href="https://your-original-blog.com/post-goes-here" data-react-helmet="true" />

Hopefully this sheds some light on how easy it is to do some things in Gatsby. Happy cross-posting!