If you’re a Search Engine Optimizer, then surely you’ll be familiar with these two terms 301 Redirect and Canonical tag, as it’s been one of the most debated and confusing topics in the SEO Industry. And, I guess you’ll have implemented both in your daily work, as there are many clients ask for redirection and for resolving other issues like duplicate pages, duplicate content, expired content on their websites.

How Do You Decide When to Use 301 Redirect & Rel=Canonical?

I hope you’re good at managing these tags properly, but there are many others who use these tags wrongly. That’s why; I’m heading to describe these two with proper explanations.

What is 301 Redirect?

301 Redirect defines that a web page has been permanently moved to a new location. Actually, when you set up a 301 Redirect for a webpage, it tells search engines to de-index the previous page and index the page where it’s redirected to. Also, link juice pass to the redirected page, not 100%, but 80-90% as it is stated by Mattcutts on his blog on how to setup redirection.

How do you confirm that Redirection is set up properly?

Look at the “Fetch As Google” section on the Search Console to confirm that a web page is redirected properly. It shows you exactly how search engines fetch your pages. You can see on the very first line of the “Fetch As Google” report like this.

Deciding when to use !
  • When you wish to move Pages permanently to the other pages on the website.
  • When moving your old domain to a new one.
  • When your homepage is accessed via multiple urls.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     For e. g. –

Your home page: http://www.example.com/

Other Urls directing to your home page: http://example.com

http://example.com/home

  • If you have 404 pages and expired contents on your website, have good authority, then you can redirect to some other pages.

 What is Rel=Canonical ?

Rel=Canonical is a tag that defines the preferred version of the page to the search engines among multiple pages have the same content. When you set up a canonical tag on pages, search engines de-index all the pages from their index except the one which is made canonical. In this case, all the pages are visible to users as compared to 301 Redirect in which users are redirected to the new page. Also, link juice pass to the canonical page from other pages.

This is mainly used to avoid duplicity when you’ve multiple pages on your website, and each carrying the same content.

For e. g. –

Suppose that an eCommerce website has a shoe collection categorized according to colors & prices, and same shoes are being displayed in different categories, such as both color and price categories displaying the same shoe collections. In this case, your pages fall into the duplicity.

http://example.com/shoes/color

http://example.com/shoes/price

Deciding when to use !
  • When you wish to post the same blog on two different domains (Cross-domain Implementation), then use a canonical tag. Make canonical one of these two. In this way, both will be available to users, but only one will be indexed in the search engine’s database.

<link rel=”canonical” href=”example.com”>

  • In Pagination, use the canonical tag along with rel=”prev” & rel=”next” tag.

Suppose that, you’ve have broken your long blog post into multiple pages, so you need to define rel=”prev” & rel=”next” tag on each page. Apart from these, make each page canonical with their urls.

http://example.com/blog/page/ –    1st Page

http://example.com/blog/page/1/ – 2nd Page

http://example.com/blog/page/2/ – 3rd Page

In the 1st page,

<link rel=”next” href=”http://example.com/blog/page/1/”>

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/blog/page/”>

For the 2nd page,

<link rel=”next” href=”http://example.com/blog/page/2/”>

<link rel=”prev” href=”http://example.com/blog/page/”>

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/blog/page/1/”>

  • When you’ve duplicate pages on your website, as stated above with the shoes example.

  • You can implement it on the server to access the pdf and html document files via multiple urls like this.

https://www.example.com/download/paper.pdf

https://www.example.com/download/page-1/paper.pdf

https://www.example.com/download/page-2/paper.pdf

https://www.example.com/download/page-3/paper.pdf

Link: <http://www.example.com/downloads/paper.pdf>; rel=”canonical”

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How Do You Decide When to Use 301 Redirect & Rel=Canonical?

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