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I have some old articles on my blog that get quite a bit of traffic, but are very outdated. I want to remove them from Google's index using the noindex tag, but I'm not sure what the best approach will be to send the same traffic to my new article on the subject without using a redirect (as I want to keep them in my blog archives).

I was intending to just put a link at the top of the article pointing to the new one, but was wondering if it was appropriate to use a canonical tag instead; the new article is on the same subject but doesn't contain the same content, so isn't really a copy.

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You can write at the top of the old articles that you've written a new updated article click here etc to view the new article. I've seen that before and you get to keep both articles up. –  Anagio Mar 20 '12 at 17:44
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5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I don't think Canonical is the correct way as you are essentially that the correct url for that page is the new one, as it is different content I think it may conflict.

Personally I think the easiest way if you want to keep the old post is the link at the top of the page.

Also if you remove the page from google it will be removed and not replaced so you will miss out on any page ranking or weight the page has already... so once again all points to the link through to the new article.

The other option could be to create an 'archived' version of that post and replace the content in the existing version with the new content.

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I think your last suggestion to create an 'archived' version is a pretty good idea. Also include a link to the old archived version for those who have bookmarked the original article. –  w3d Feb 29 '12 at 11:00
    
Don't duplicate content. If you have a 301 in place then people with bookmarks will be sorted =) –  Sandy Lee Feb 29 '12 at 15:02
    
Ewan said he didn't want to redirect users, so a 301 would be no use. The way I understand it is that the new content is going to be very different to the existing content (which is now outdated) so there shouldn't be problems with duplicate content. –  Vince Pettit Feb 29 '12 at 15:14
    
I think I'll just go with the link and loose any visits the page might have got: There's no point showing people useless content for the sake of a few visits. Thanks –  Ewan Heming Mar 1 '12 at 13:24
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If you are moving this content to an archive section make sure it is not duplicated as a number of SEO friendly CMS's do this (looking at you WordPress) and don't forget to put 301 redirects in place otherwise the value of these articles will be lost. To concur with the other posters rel=canonical is not appropriate here.

A good article on content migration can be found here:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/web-site-migration-guide-tips-for-seos

Good Luck!

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Generally, it's considered bad form to have a rel=canonical link pointing to completely different content, and search engines might decide to ignore such links. As it happens, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that Google, at least, may indeed honor such links and dutifully transfer the old page's PageRank to the new page.

For example, the StackExchange software used on this site currently does just that: when a question gets more than 30 answers, they get split over several pages, with the later pages having a rel=canonical link pointing to the first page. If you try to search Google for some string that only occurs in one of the answers on the second page, you'll only find mirror sites, since Google only indexes the "canonical" version of the page.

So you could indeed (ab)use rel=canonical as you suggest. Some search engines might not honor it, but I'm not aware of any that would specifically punish you for it. (And, if they did, they'd end up punishing plenty of other sites too.) If you do this, I would, of course, also suggest adding a normal text link to the new page for visitors who come to the old page from other sites.


Alternatively, you could combine rel=canonical with Vince Pettit's suggestion of moving the old content into an archive. Specifically, you could do something like this:

Original situation:

  • www.example.com/oldpage: old, outdated content
  • www.example.com/newpage: new, better content

After update:

  • www.example.com/archive/oldpage: old, outdated content, possibly noindexed
  • www.example.com/newpage: new, better content
  • www.example.com/oldpage: same content as newpage, with a rel=canonical link pointing to newpage and a normal text link pointing to archive/oldpage

Of course, I'd prefer to use 301 redirects instead, like this:

After update:

  • www.example.com/archive/oldpage: old, outdated content, possibly noindexed
  • www.example.com/newpage: new, better content, with a text link to archive/oldpage
  • www.example.com/oldpage: HTTP 301 redirect to newpage

That way, your visitors will end up directly at the new page, but you can still have a notice there explaining where the old content has gone. You also avoid the need to duplicate any content, and get (almost) the full PageRank of the old page transferred to the new one.

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I wanted to be clear on something about the Canonical tag usage.

I have a web site offering home alarm service in the state of Texas.

In my footer (on my main home index page) I have multiple URLs that could be considered duplicate content.

www.texasbestalarms.com/city-Austin-tx
/city-Abilene-tx /city-killeen-tx /city-temple-tx /city-Lufkin-Nacogdoches /city-corpus-christi-tx /city-waco-texas

ETC. ETC.

The only differences on those URL city-pages was the page title (indicateing that particular city) and references to the phone number (i had local numbers) and a few minor differences not much. Rookie mistake. A lot of them got De indexed for D.C.

So I went back and really made some unique changes on each and every /city-URL page and basically renamed the URL and title... Now they are all indexed just fine.

OK, so, My question is this:

Had I placed that Canonical url tag [ ] on each /city-URL back page, would that have shielded the pages from being duped as duplicate content ?

In other words, if I were to start creating additional /city- backpages from this day forward, could I just clone another /city-page and just make minor changes where it references the city and phone number? And as long as I put the TAG in there it will not get counted as D.C. ?? would that work ?

Or would that tell the search engines to redirect the users to main main Home .index page ?

I would still want the users to land on the appropriate page they were looking for.. ie: Keywords used [ ADT Security Austin } I would still hope that the SERPS would list www.texasbestalarms.com/city-Austin-tx

That's the part I don't understand.

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Canonical tags and redirecting a page is compeletely different things you can get all the discussion on it through google.

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