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I have troubles understanding rel=canonical the way google wants me to implement it.

I have a job site that uses filters to show subsets of the total job list. Nothing fancy... normal stuff.

So if you go to /jobs you are able to paginate through all of them. You can than apply all sorts of filters like: /jobs/new-york or /jobs?jobs_position_id=3 (I know this is a "bad" url. I will change it to show actual words, but this does not change my canonical question) Also there is a search like /jobs?query=FOO(&job_position_id=3 additional with filters).

How should I apply rel=canonical here? I tried some strategies, but I had the feeling Google didn't like it. Right now there is none...


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's actually very simple. If you have two URLs which display the same content, you need to use canonical URLs. Which URLs is the canonical URL? The one you want Google to list in its search results.

In your example, you would have the main search result without the filters being your canonical URL. So /jobs/new-york or /jobs?jobs_position_id=3 would be the canonical URL for /jobs?jobs_position_id=3&query=FOO.

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But it is not the same. Every filter is displaying a subset of the complete list /jobs and every combination results in a different subset. So /jobs would be canonical for /jobs?query=FOO AND /jobs?job_position_id=3. By that /jobs would be canonical to every filtered subset combination? – bresc Feb 18 '14 at 14:41
If the filter is eliminating some results but leaving others then you probably don't want to use canonical URLs as the results are different. However, if there are a lot of only slightly different results with the filters enabled this runs the risk of being considered low quality content and then canonical URLs might be required. – John Conde Feb 18 '14 at 15:14
This is the case! Should I then maybe tell google that it does not need to check out all combination? – bresc Feb 18 '14 at 15:22
I would do like in the example in my answer simply because it makes all of the content discoverable. Then if a user wants to filer out the content they can do so once they get to your website. – John Conde Feb 18 '14 at 15:23

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