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If you use a canonical url meta tag on a paged result page, will Google still link to it when a keyword is found?

I have a forum which has multiple pages for each topic. 10 posts per page.

When I google for a topic title, I see that page but also a link to the last page, and since the button said "Last", Google actually adds that to the link, making it look really weird because they remove the original title, which is also the topic title.

Anyway, should I put canonical URL meta tags on pages that have "/page/4/" behind the URL? And if people search for content that can be found on page 4, will Google still point them to the right page?

To make it more abstract: Having multiple links in search engines results is silly, but they should still be crawled as the content is not duplicate.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Google has issued specific guidance on how best to deal with paginated content - http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1663744 (which does include a 'do nothing' option, letting Google decide which results to show). However, if you are not happy with the way your results are shown in the SERPs, it may be worth trying one of the other options suggested there.

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Looks quite interesting. I guess I will A/B test the rel="next"/"prev" thing and else stick with the 'do nothing' option. –  Gerben Jacobs Aug 21 '12 at 0:27
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By specifying a rel="canonical" link element on a page you are informing Google of the preferred page to return when you have (nearly) identical content on two or more pages and it would otherwise be tricky for Google to decide which page to return.

If the pages do not have duplicate content, as you suggest, then I don't think a canonical link element is appropriate. If, for instance you have two pages, PageA and PageB. PageA identifies PageB as the canonical page. They have different content. If a user searches for XYZ, which appears on PageA, but not on PageB (the specified canonical page), it would not make sense to show PageB in the results for this search. IMO PageB has been incorrectly identified as the canonical page by the developer, and Google must resolve issues like this.

Anyway, should I put canonical URL meta tags on pages that have "/page/4/" behind the URL? And if people search for content that can be found on page 4, will Google still point them to the right page?

Surely the "right page" to return to the user is page 4 - the page where the search phrase was found?!

Google Webmaster Tools Help - About rel="canonical": http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=139394

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