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The company I work for hosts several websites - one of these is a UK brand that's been around for years, another of them is a bit newer and is basically a white-label/affiliate site that re-skins itself - the idea being that we can go to company A or company B and say "Hey, would you like to sell our products? Here's a free micro-site, just link to it from yours..."

Some of the people who have taken us up on this are quite large firms and and as a result this affiliate site is now out-ranking our main UK consumer brand (we think due to the high quality back links).

Our top brass aren't really happy about this and are asking if there's any way we can take the value of those back links and transfer them to our main consumer brand. Now, I personally don't agree with this ethically, but I have been asked the question and I honestly don't know the answer. If it helps, the affiliate site and the main consumer brand share a CMS, so the copy is the same. Is there any way of (as my managers have started describing it) me "juicing" one site from the backlinks of another using meta/canonical tags?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 13 '11 at 13:49

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This is exactly what the rel=canonical is for. Here's an introduction to why Google introduced the canonical tag and how to get started using it:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=139394

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Matt says you can only use it within the domain. –  Joe Apr 13 '11 at 23:10
    
From Gesher's link: "Can rel="canonical" be used to suggest a canonical url on a completely different domain? There are situations where it's not easily possible to set up redirects. This could be the case when you need to migrate to a new domain name using a web server that cannot create server-side redirects. In this case, you can use the rel="canonical" link element to specify the exact URL of the domain preferred for indexing. While the rel="canonical" link element is seen as a hint and not an absolute directive, we do try to follow it where possible. " –  Mikey Hogarth Apr 14 '11 at 9:38
    
Looks like the answer is "yes, canonicals can be used to suggest that google change their indexing, but it's not a 100% dead cert that they will heed your advice". –  Mikey Hogarth Apr 14 '11 at 9:41
    
The canonical tag can be used across domains. The classic example is for a site that syndicates its content on the other sites. They'll add a canonical tag, or ask their publishers to add a canonical tag, indicating that the official version of the content resides in a totally different domain. Another example is for affiliate programs to as their affiliates to add canonical tags so they don't outrank the main online store. –  gesher Apr 14 '11 at 22:29

I don't see a way to get the full revenue of the links other that doing a permanet redirection from one site to another. To get some of the reputation you can set links from the white label site to the main one, but that will have minimal effect. Using canonical may work but probably that will remove pages from the results and leave only the canonicals.

A more ethical approach is requiring the big brands to add also a link to your main site, maybe on another section (partners, providers...) that should help also to address the problem.

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