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Business Consulting For The 21st Century Via A Holistic & Intelligent Approach

Canonical verses 301 Redirect

Consumed => “301 Redirect or Rel=Canonical – Which One Should You Use?” by Paddy_Moogan on SEOmoz.

Left a comment…

FWIW, I think Morgan might have unintentionally misspoke a bit. (While I too might be mistaken), I’ll try to clarify:

Redirects are for when pages have moved. I think we all agree on that :)

On the other hand, canonical is a way of allowing a site to define a “page” indepentent of what the URI is. From the bots’ perspective it’s saying, “Ignore what you see in “real” URI and use *this* URI when indexing.” So in the cases where there’s a lot of “stuff” in the URI – for example e-comm – canonical is a means to allow a site to manually override that mess and give the bots an exact URI that should be used to index that “page”. “Page” is in quotes because without canonical bots define “page” as a unique URI. With canonical “page” because whatever you say it is.

Another example might be, you tag (with Google URL builder) any links you spread. This might be good for you but it could confuse the indexing. The tags might be different but the ones that go to the same page should be indexed as the same page. Canonical lets you make that happen.

IMHO, the example he gives at the end of the 301 Redirect section about various URIs for a home page is actually an example for canonical. You could use a redirect but again, that’s for moved pages. Canonical is for tying established pages together, as in his example.

In short, I agree with you, there’s no bad reason (that I know of) for not using canonical from the get go.

And another comment as well…

Three more things I’d like to add:

1) While I haven’t read much about it yet my (personal) hunch is given the current emphisis on “freshness” and “up to date-ness” we’re going to see SERPs dropping sites/URIs that no longer exist from their results. Therefore, it’s unlikely that a site is going to show up on a results page and not be there. Unless of course the site has just moved. The bots will go back a couple times and if the pages are still MIA then they’ll be dropped from the index.

2) Therefore, 301s are mainly for passing rank juice. If you don’t have a lot of juice then it might not even be worth worrying about. More likely than not your new site will be “reindexed” soon enough. Who knows, a fresh start might be a plus? Worst case, find your top 10 or top 20 links in and get them to update.

3) I believe there was something said about rank juice not being passed forward in full. As far as I can tell, there’s no reason to expect that it should be. Sure you can redirect to a new page but at some point the indexing has to be based on what is now, not what was. If the new site has been restructured, the content changed, etc. then it’s only natural that’s going to effect ranking as well. Some juice should pass forward but ultimately the indexing is going to be based on what is, not what was, eh? It’s possible the new site isn’t as “SEO friendly” as hoped for.

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