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I'm currently in the process of building a charts website with music from Soundcloud.

The charts will be 'cleared' every week.

My base URL will be: http://example.com/

Which will contain the charts of the current week.

Every week will also have its own URL: http://example.com/{year}/{week}

E.g. http://example.com/2011/50

This would mean that the current week will be accessible by two URLs. The base URL and the week URL.

So I'm thinking about adding a canonical URL on the page @ the base URL to the URL of the week.

Is that a good idea? Or will it impact the ranking of my home page (the base URL)?

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think adding a constantly changing canonical URL to the home page would be a bad idea. You typically want your home page to be your highest ranking page, but by giving your home page a canonical to the latest weekly URL, all of the inbound links, etc, to your home page will constantly be pointing towards that weekly URL instead of the actual home page. Since mechanisms like PageRank do not always update in real-time, you could end up with delayed situations where last week's URL is considered your highest ranking page because the search engines haven't crawled the homepage to update it to the current week.

Since there is only going to be one week like the home page at a time, I wouldn't worry too much about duplicate content. Try not to display any links to the current week's "/year/week" until it is a previous week. If you really want you could give the current "/year/week" URL a canonical URL to the home page until the week is over and then switch the canonical to "/year/week" - I think every page updating its canonical once early on and then never again is better than having your home page updating its canonical every single week.

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Canonical URLs are only hints (albeit strong ones) about which of two pages with duplicate content get indexed. Google has always reserved the right not to follow them when it sees that content is sufficiently different; it will crawl your canonical page and make its own decision. The likelihood being that if the page is different, it'll assume you made an error and crawl the page anyway. If its the same, it'll index your preferred URL.

They are for hinting which URL you prefer to see in the index when you can access the same page of content in multiple ways. Just for anyone that doesn't think that's likely - consider a fairly standard server set up, it would be possible to access the same page with a number of different URLs:

  • mysite.com
  • mysite.com/index.php
  • mysite.com/index.php?sort=name
  • mysite.com/name (using mod_rewrite)

You can double the ways to access the page if you add a subdomain (www.) onto the beginning of the URL too!

So, if you have "Page A" with a canonical URL pointing to "Page B" - given that they are different, the best and probably most likely case is that the canonical tag will be ignored. The worst case is that you'll be removed from the index for trying to manipulate search results in a dishonest way.

So short answer - no. At best, pointless. At worst, harmful to your site.

Here's a 20 minute video by Matt Cutts on it, in case you're having trouble sleeping ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm9onOGTgeM

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I think PeeHaa was asking about using canonical for Page A and Page B having the same content, not different. I may have misunderstood. –  joshuahedlund Dec 17 '11 at 15:09
    
If the content is the same, or basically the same, then yeah, add a canonical tag to tell Google your preferred URL. If they're (too) different, don't count on it working that way. –  Codecraft Dec 17 '11 at 22:59
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