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Google releases the "canonical" tag

Friday, 13 February 2009

Google releases the "canonical" tag.

The tag behaves like an intrasite 301 redirect at crawler level but allows the page to behave as a normal 200 when users interact with it, and is implemented as:

<link rel="canonical" href="">

I was debating this with Matt Cutts at the Web 2.0 Summit in SF after his preventing virtual blight presentation, (guess I can say this now the tag is public information :-) ) and think it's a good idea that could be taken even further.  Per page conanical redirects are cool, but my thoughts are that enterprise SEO & IT teams would have more control if we could simply drop in REGEX and Redirect commands for crawler control into the robots.txt file in a similar way we might do in a .htaccess file, as this would be much easier to implement and would centralise control rather than having to output the conanical target on a page by page basis.

Nice start though.


Matt Whelan

...and easier to spam? :-)
Although perhaps not if Google really is going to check content to see if the canonicalisation is justified.

However, whilst i'm confident in Google's ability to do this, and in their ability to use the "same safeguards" that prevent redirect misuse to help manage it, I'm not quite as convinced by the other search engines abilities to keep a lid on the spam potential of this...

I guess if Google penalise you hard enough (as opposed to just not giving you any benefit) it would remove the profitability from spamming the other SEs, but Google probably aren't going to implement penalties just to improve Y! & MSN's results...

There's my twopenniworth - time will tell!

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