When to use Rel Canonical or Noindex … or both
During a Google SEO Hangout during office hours, Google’s John Mueller was asked if the rel canonical or noindex tag was the best approach for dealing with duplicate and thin content in an ecommerce site. John Mueller discussed the two options and then suggested a third way to handle it.
The noindex meta tag is a directive, which means that Google must obey the meta tag and prevent the web page from appearing in search results.
All the noindex tag does is remove that page from Google search results.
from google official documents States:
“You can prevent a page or other resource from appearing in Google search by including a meta tag or noindex header in the HTTP response. When Googlebot then crawls that page and sees the tag or header, Googlebot will completely remove this page from Google search results, whether or not other sites are linked to it.
A rel = canonical tag is a hint, not a directive. It gives Google a suggestion for the URL you want to show in the search results.
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This is useful when there are multiple similar pages, especially when a shopping CMS generates multiple pages for the same product, the only difference usually being something trivial like the color of the item.
Google’s official canonical rel documentation explains the problem like that:
“A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google says is the most representative of a set of duplicate pages on your site. For example, if you have URLs for the same page (example.com?dress=1234 and example.com/dresses/1234), Google chooses one as canonical.
The rel canonical is a useful solution because it can consolidate all the link and relevance signals to the main page that a publisher wants in the search results.
But since Google treats the rel canonical tag as a clue, there is no guarantee that Google will obey it and Google’s algorithm may decide to show another page in the search result.
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Rel Canonical Versus Noindex
The person asking the question wanted to know if it was better to use the noindex or canonization.
This is not an unreasonable thing to confuse as a case could be made using either solution.
Here is the question:
“We have a website… an e-commerce store with a lot of product variations that have thin or even duplicate content sometimes.
So… I made a list of all the URLs that we want to keep or that we want to index… and then I made a list of all the URLs that we do not want to index.
The more I worked on it, the more I asked myself this question, canonization or not indexing?
I don’t know which would be the best of them.
“… I think the general question of whether I should use noindex or rel canonical for another page is something for which there probably isn’t an absolute answer.
So it’s a little offhand. It’s like you have a hard time with that, you weren’t the only person thinking, oh, which one should I use?
It also generally means that both of these options may be acceptable.
So generally what I would look at there is what your really strong preference is.
And if the strong preference is that you really don’t want this content to show up in search, then I would use noindex.
If your preference is, I really want everything combined on one page and if individual pages appear like anything but most of them need to be combined then I would use a canonical rel.
And ultimately, the effect is similar in that, well, the page you’re looking at probably won’t show up in search.
But with a noindex it is definitely not displayed.
And with a canonical rel, it is more likely not to be shown.
A third way to deal with duplicate and thin pages
Mueller then suggested that an editor could use both noindex and rel canonical in order to benefit from both.
“… You can also do both.
And that’s something … if some external links, for example, point to this page then having both there kind of helps us get it right, you don’t want this page indexed but you have some as well. specified another.
So maybe some of the signals we can just pass on. “
The combination of Rel Canonical and Noindex is not a commonly discussed solution. But according to John Mueller, it’s a valid way to deal with duplicate and thin content.
But at the end of the day, it’s really up to the publisher to decide based on the desired outcome, whether building link and relevance signals is important, and whether making sure the page appears. not in research.
Google official documentation on Noindex
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Official Google Documentation on Rel Canonical
Which is better: NoIndex or Rel Canonical?
Watch at 4:49 PM Minute Mark