Critical This Hint requires immediate attention, as the issue may have a serious impact upon crawling, indexing or ranking. Issue This Hint represents an error or problem that needs to be fixed.

​Canonical outside of head

This means that the URL in question has a canonical element specified in the HTML, but outside of the <head>.

Why is this important?

If a canonical is specified outside of the <head>, it will be completely ignored by search engines. 

Ultimately this means that whatever you had hoped to accomplish with this rel=canonical will not come to fruition.

What does the Hint check?

This Hint will trigger for any internal URL which contains a canonical in the HTML, yet outside of the <head> area.

Examples that trigger this Hint:

Consider the URL: https://example.com/

The Hint would trigger for this URL if it had a canonical tag that was anywhere outside of the <head>, for example:

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
<title>example</title>
...
</head>
<body>
...
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/" />
...
</body>
</html>

The Hint MAY also trigger if you have invalid HTML elements which break the <head>, as this can mean that the <body> starts early, and the canonical tag ends up in there.

How do you resolve this issue?

This Hint is marked 'Critical' as it represents a fundamentally breaking issue, which may have a serious adverse impact upon organic search traffic. It is strongly recommended that Critical issues are dealt with as a matter of high priority.

Typically, this comes from an instance where the <head> gets broken. When Googlebot parses your HTML, the canonical tag is moved to the body. Check to see if either of these Hints are also triggered:

If this is the case, then resolving these issues first may also resolve the canonical problem.

If either of these 2 Hints is not triggered, however, you'll need to do some more digging to investigate the issue. It would then indicate a configuration issue on the URL in question, which is likely due to an issue with a page template or plugin which is putting the canonical in the wrong place. The canonical tag will need to be removed from the <body> (and replaced in the <head>), so you may require developer assistance.

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