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When To Use Rel Canonical Or Noindex …Or Both



When To Use Rel Canonical Or Noindex …Or Both

In a Google SEO office-hours hangout Google’s John Mueller was asked whether rel canonical or the noindex tag was the best approach for dealing with duplicate and thin content in an ecommerce site. John Mueller discussed both options and then suggested a third way to handle it.

Noindex Directive

The noindex meta tag is a directive, which means that Google must obey the meta tag and drop the web page from appearing in the search results.

All that the noindex tag does is to drop that page from showing up in Google’s search results.

Google’s official documentation states:

“You can prevent a page or other resource from appearing in Google Search by including a noindex meta tag or header in the HTTP response. When Googlebot next crawls that page and sees the tag or header, Googlebot will drop that page entirely from Google Search results, regardless of whether other sites link to it.”

Rel Canonical

A rel=canonical tag is a hint, not a directive. It gives Google a suggestion for which URL you want shown in the search results.

This is useful when there are multiple pages that are similar, especially when a shopping CMS generates multiple pages for the same product with usually the only difference being something trivial like the color of the item.

Google’s official rel canonical documentation explains the problem like this:

“A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is most representative from a set of duplicate pages on your site. For example, if you have URLs for the same page ( and, Google chooses one as canonical.”

The rel canonical is a useful solution because it can consolidate all of the link and relevance signals back to the main page that a publisher wants in the search results.


But because Google treats the rel canonical tag as a hint, there’s no guarantee that Google will obey it and the Google algorithm may decide to show some other page in the search result.

Rel Canonical Versus Noindex

The person asking the question wanted clarification about whether it was best to use noindex or canonicalization.

It’s not an unreasonable thing to be confused about because a case could be made using either solution.

Here’s the question:

“We have a website… an ecommerce store with a lot of product variations that have thin content or duplicate content even sometimes.

So …I made a list of all the URLs we want to keep or we want to have indexed… and then I made a list of all the URLs that we don’t want to have indexed.

The more I worked on it the more I asked this question to myself, canonicalization or noindexing?

I don’t know what the better of those would be.”

Mueller answered:


“…I think the general question of should I use noindex or rel canonical for another page is something where there probably isn’t an absolute answer.

So that’s kind of just offhand. It’s like if you’re struggling with that you’re not the only person who’s like, oh which one should I use?

That also usually means that both of these options can be okay.

So usually what I would look at there is what your really strong preference there is.

And if the strong preference is you really don’t want this content to be shown at all in search, then I would use noindex.

If your preference is, I really want everything combined in one page and if individual ones show up, like whatever, but most of them should be combined, then I would use a rel canonical.

And ultimately the effect is similar in that, well, it’s likely the page that you’re looking at won’t be shown in search.

But with a noindex it’s definitely not shown.

And with a rel canonical it’s more likely not shown.”


A Third Way to Deal with Duplicate and Thin Pages

Mueller next suggested that a publisher can use both noindex and rel canonical in order to benefit from both.

Mueller said:

“…you can also do both of them.

And it’s something… if external links, for example, are pointing at this page then having both of them there kind of helps us to figure out well, you don’t want this page indexed but you also specified another one.

So maybe some of the signals we can just forward along.”

Combining 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 ultimately it’s really up to the publisher to decide based on what their desired outcome is, whether consolidating link and relevance signals is important and whether making sure the page does not appear in search is paramount.


Google’s Official Documentation of Noindex

Block Search indexing with noindex

Google’s Official Documentation of Rel Canonical

Consolidate duplicate URLs


Which is Best: NoIndex or Rel Canonical?

Watch at 16:49 Minute Mark

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YouTube Analytics Now Separates Data By Video Type



YouTube Analytics Now Separates Data By Video Type

YouTube is rolling out an update to analytics reports that will benefit content creators who make videos in different formats.

You’ll now be able to see the total number of video views for each type of content you publish to your channel.

Previously, data was combined into a single metric that counted views for all content types.

YouTube is making these changes to help you understand and compare the performance of different video formats.

You can compare views of regular videos, versus Shorts, versus livestreams to see which type of content is driving the most engagement for your channel.

Here’s more about the changes to YouTube Analytics, why they’re being made, along with answers to questions you’re likely to have.

Separate Data For Content Types In YouTube Analytics

When this change rolls out, what you’ll notice in YouTube Studio is an absence of the Reach and Engagement tabs you’re used to seeing at the channel level. They’re getting replaced by a new tab called Content.


The Content tab is going to be a merged home where you will be able to follow up on the performance of your different content types.

When you click on the Content tab you’ll see several navigation items that take you to metrics for individual types of videos.

For example, you’ll see a Videos button if you are creating long-form videos (VODs), a Shorts button if you’re creating short-form videos, a Live button if you do livestreaming, and so on.

There’s also an All button, which is best used for comparing performance across different types of formats.

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These changes are rolling out in the next couple of weeks for all creators on mobile and desktop.

This update only applies to channel-level analytics. There are no changes to video-level analytics there are no changes.

Why Is YouTube Making These Changes?

Feedback from creators indicates there’s a strong demand for separate analytics. As mentioned, all video views are currently combined into a single metric.

YouTube is adding separate analytics, as well as the ability to compare metrics for the first time.


No data is being removed, it’s simply getting presented in a different way.

If data appears to be missing it has likely been moved to a new location. For example, traffic sources data will appear throughout YouTube Analytics instead of having its own section.

Answers To Common Questions

What About Watch Time?

Creators may want to know when they’ll get access to even more granular data, such as watch time by content type.

YouTube says it’s hard include all metrics in all places. If you want to see watch time by content type, you can access Advanced Mode on the top right corner of YouTube Studio on desktop.

From there you can filter metrics by content type, which will enable you to get watch time for different formats.

What About Historical Data?

Metrics filtered by content type are only available up to a certain point.

If you want to see an entire history of your data you can get that in Advanced Mode on the desktop version of YouTube Analytics.

Source: Creator Insider
Featured Image: PixieMe/Shutterstock

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