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I'm combining three existing urls into one.
Till now I have:
http://mydomain.com/folder1/page1
http://mydomain.com/folder2/page2
http://mydomain.com/folder3/page3

Content from all three pages will now be combined in one url. Instead of building a new url that combines these, I will be taking one that most prominent, and put all combine it there. for the sake of the discussion it's folder1/page1

What should I do with folder2/page2 and folder3/page3? Options I've thought of:

  1. 301 redirect to /folder1/page1
  2. Canonical to /folder1/page1
  3. Keep them as is, with just some of the content, and alert there is a unified page.
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Use a 301 redirect to /folder1/page1. This tells the search engines and users the pages have moved so they can update accordingly. In the case of search engines this means making sure all links to the old URLs are credited to the new URL. In the case of users, their bookmarks (if they use them that is).

It's also a usability issue (albeit a minor one). Users shouldn't see the same content on multiple URLs. It makes it confusing for them.

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Is it OK the 301 is to a page that existed for a long time? I would like it to keep its old page-rank + get the page rank of the other two links that he now also holds –  Noam Feb 6 at 15:05
    
Absolutely. The 301 redirect won't change anything for the existing page except potentially make it stronger thanks to whatever SEO benefits the other pages bring to it (i.e. link juice). –  John Conde Feb 6 at 15:06
    
And it's a bit better to use /folder1/page1 vs. /new_folder/new_page, right? –  Noam Feb 6 at 15:12
    
Maybe a little bit just because there is some pagerank lost in 301 redirects. But the amount is tiny and PR has so little SEO value anymore that it probably doesn't matter. But I would probably chose to use /folder1/page1 over /new_folder/new_page as well. –  John Conde Feb 6 at 15:44
    
@Noam For visitors who may hit the old pages, you may also want to redirect directly to an internal anchor that goes directly to the old content, e.g. /folder1/page1#original-page2-content. –  Michael Hampton Feb 6 at 23:22
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I believe a 301 redirect to be the appropriate solution here - John Conde is correct in my opinion.

Search engines don't seem to strategically penalize page ranking where duplicate content is found however since they want so show users a variety of page results and not lots of identical results with just different URL's what they really want to establish is which page to include and which pages to exclude.

By using 301 redirects to the URL of your choice you get to help the search engines index the page you're most interested in having indexed. The SEO impact from my experience has been an improvement though this can be quite a controversial topic in the SEO world. The only cases where I've seen duplicate content positively impact SEO has been from multiple domain names, not the same domain.

301 redirects normally only attract a penalty if they are chained together - e.g. www.domain1.com 301 redirecting to www.domain2.com 301 redirecting to www.domain3.com, and this penalty is applied due to the wasted bandwidth, wasted DNS lookups and increased end-user page load time.

Hope this helps to clarify.

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