Either to use a canonical tag or 301 redirects when managing duplicate content? Let’s understand and distinguish these two concepts to understand the options better.
There are many definitions and usage of the word “canonical.”
However, for search engines, “canonical” refers explicitly to the indicator of the preferred version of the URL for each content page on a site. Canonicalization directs search engines to the performance indexed and referenced by reflecting the webpage’s ranking in search results.
Google has provided specific guidelines and recommends keeping your site’s URL structure as simple as possible. When search engines find multiple URLs pointing to a single content page, they can become “confused” about the correct match for a particular search.
This, in turn, can create “duplicate content.” In most cases, search engines go to great lengths to select the ideal match for a particular search query. However, if those search engines can’t determine the best match from the variations found, the search engines may not crawl any of them again.
A 301 redirect, or “permanent redirect,” best fixes known or anticipated URL canonicalization issues; these should be implemented when duplicate URLs to the same content page are discovered in a search engine index or applied proactively when you know there will be an issue after a domain change or site migration.
So let’s dive into the topic and discuss them one by one.
Table of Contents
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A 301 redirect allows you to move one URL to another permanently. From the user’s point of view, when entering a URL, he will be redirected to another URL. The original URL does not load any content; it only redirects to the new URL.
If you implement the 301 redirects, there may be a slight delay in the load time. However, you can overcome this problem by effectively using CDN, caching, and other modern technologies. In addition, there are many practical methods for implementing a 301 redirect.
Since there are several ways to activate the detour, you can find your sweet spot for yourself and keep using it.
SEO professionals have long used the canonical tag, and it’s not a new concept. It has been in use for over a decade, and there are still difficulties in figuring out the right situation to use it.
The underlying principle behind introducing the canonical tag enables the webmaster to describe the exact URL with duplicate content.
A 301 redirect vs. a Rel = Canonical redirect
A 301 redirect notifies the internet service provider that your page has moved and effectively tells your visitors and Google Search that a page has a new location. Redirects are merging two pages and ensuring that links to outdated URLs are redirected to the correct pages.
A rel = canonical notify most search engines that there are several versions of the same page and specify which performance to be regarded as the “original version” in the search results.
Redirect options can be bewildering, especially when they seem similar. This article will tell you which option is best for you.
Is it the Best option for duplicate content?
Content that emerges in more than one place is viewed as duplicate content and can be bewildering for search engines trying to decide which version is relevant for queries. It can also negatively affect your search ranking.
The 301 and rel = canonical redirects are two of the best solutions for dealing with duplicate content, but you need to decide which is more relevant to your situation.
Why Do I even have Duplicate Content?
You already know that content material is king if you own an internet site. Besides bringing attractive traffic to your web website online, it’s what search engines like google and yahoo examine while rating websites.
If your content material is unique, relevant, and attractive, it has better ratings within search engines like Google and yahoo. On the contrary, search engines like google and yahoo will lower your rating if your online web website has replica content material.
Some site owners don’t even recognize they have got replica content material on their websites. So, what are the motives for replica content material?
Various reasons can result in content material duplication. These include:
Regional area prefix
If your internet site is accessible in entire regions, you want to apply canonical tags to the primary content material to save replica content material.
Transfer protocol/subdomain versions
If you could get entry to a domain via exclusive URLs, as proven earlier, search engines like google and yahoo will recollect those as separate pages.
Mobile web website online variations are regularly to be had via exclusive URLs. You want to apply canonical tags to distinguish the two.
The difficulty of replica content material is rampant in eCommerce stores, mainly while there are deluxe versions of the identical product.
Copied content material
You can also want a couple of internet sites to post similar material in a few cases. If that is the case, you ought to canonicalize the desired content material.
Google Panda became a set of rules released in 2011 that penalized web websites having plenty of duplicates and low-high-satisfactory content material. Now, Panda is part of Google’s middle set of rules.
If you don’t need Panda to hit your web page, you need to discover and fasten reproduction content material problems in your web page with the assistance of canonical URLs.
301 redirects “What is and when to use it?
301 Redirect is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol status code (sent by the webserver) used to indicate the software (browser, crawler) and engines. The search engine that the original page it was looking to access has been permanently moved to a new web page.
When your browser receives this code, it will automatically switch to the unique URL mentioned with the status code 301.
Implement a 301 redirect When:
- Your domain is moved permanently, for example, due to a rebranding
- Web pages have changed or moved permanently
- You have outdated web page content or 404 errors and want to point to another relevant page.
SEO Benefits of 301 redirects
301 redirects are crucial for SEO and differentiate between a successful site rebuild and a failure. They can be helpful in several ways:
Keeping visitors engaged with your website
When a visitor taps on a link and a 404 page appears, it will negatively affect their experience on the site and get frustrated and walk away.
Having 301 redirects in place means the visitor can easily land and navigate the site, interacting with content that could turn them into customers or subscribers.
301 is a favored choice of 3xx redirects for SEOs due to its proven ability to pass around 90% link equity from the redirected page. This is less likely with 302 temporary redirects, and therefore search engines may not give the link equity to the new Uniform Resource Locator.
Removing old Uniform Resource Locators from a search engine’s index
If a search engine spider experiences a 301 redirect while crawling your website, it indicates that the old URL needs to be removed from its index and replaced with the new one.
The new page will finally return the old page in the search engine index, and the old URL will redirect human visitors to the unique URL every time someone tries to access it.
If you don’t use a 301 redirect each time you delete a page from your site, search engines will get a 404 Not Found response code, resulting in the weather page being wholly removed from the search engine’s index.
Why are Canonical Tags important to SEO?
The primary function of canonical tags is to solve duplicate content problems. But canonical URLs are also crucial for SEO. Here’s why:
Canonical Tags Specify the URL to display in search results
When you set a canonical tag, search engines know which version of the page to display. Duplicate content can cause various SEO issues, and search engines may not know what content to rank for. As a result, some of your authorized content will be lost.
Canonical tags make tracking metrics for a single product/topic
With multiple URLs, it can be challenging to get consolidated metrics for individual pieces of content. However, the use of canonical tags makes it easy to keep track of each page’s performance.
Preventing Googlebot from crawling duplicate pages
Canonical tags ensure that the Googlebot crawls your new web pages instead of duplicate versions of the same content if you have a large website. However, this can only be a problem if you have hundreds or thousands of pages.
Canonical URLs Consolidating Links for Duplicate Content and Managing Syndicated Content
Canonical URLs help search engines aggregate information about a URL into one authoritative URL. In addition to that, they also help consolidate the page ranking under your preferred URL.
Google doesn’t like duplicate content. It is difficult for them to choose:
- Which category of a page should be indexed (they only index one!)
- Which version of a page should be ranked for relevant queries.
- Whether “link fairness” should be consolidated on one page or split over several versions.
Too much duplicate content can also affect your crawl budget. This means that Google can end up wasting time crawling multiple versions of the same page instead of tracking down other vital content on your website.
In a nutshell
301 redirect options can be intimidating, but hopefully, you know the prime course of action. Both options will pass a closer amount of link juice and be treated the same by Google. But usually, the 301 redirect is the favored route.
The bottom line is that it’s up to your team to determine if your site has canonicalization issues and fix them to ensure your site is performing strongly in organic search.
While search engines are getting better at managing duplicate content, it’s in your company’s best interest to stay in control of your site’s performance rather than letting search engines dictate its fate.
Start with canonical URLs to update your SEO strategy and bookmark this guide on canonical tags for future reference.
Danish Wadhwa is an Entrepreneur and Growth Hacker with more than ten years of expertise in Data-Driven Marketing. He is a high-energy individual fueled by his passion for helping businesses grow Digitally.
Danish is a Fountainhead and CEO HubSpot Marketing Agency webdew and He took everything he learned in his career to help Businesses learn from his Growth Marketing Blog at webdew.com/Blog. To validate his keen interest in Growth Marketing, Danish has been Certified by Hubspot for Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, and Contextual Marketing.