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I'm wondering how best to optimize my Joomla site's SEO. I have pages with multiple articles on each page. Either via category-type pages, or via modules.

In each case, I'm not wanting users to access the articles separately from the forward facing, menu-linked pages. I understand however that Joomla still generates a url for those articles, and Google can still crawl and display these articles separate from the pages.

My question is what is the best way to control this so that my users get directed only to the front-facing pages? By using the canonical element for each article to point to the front-facing page it's on? Or is there a better method?

Thanks for your help!

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2 Answers 2

The preferred option is to set a 301 redirect from the duplicate pages to their main page. This will avoid any duplicate content issues in Google.

If a 301 redirect cannot be set, then canonical tags are also a valid second option.

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If it is only a handful of URLs you are worried about, then use Joomla's redirect manager (components > redirect) to redirect to the page you want.

You may also want to list the canonical versions of your pages in a sitemap to give Google some more hints about which should be indexed.

The only problem with on-site duplicate content is if Google choose the wrong version as canonical. As such, don't worry about duplicate content URLs which cannot be found by crawling. If Google index one by mistake, fix it then with a canonical tag or a redirect. People can spend far too long worrying about on-site duplicate content when (in most cases) it really isn't a big SEO issue.

You can find which pages a crawler will discover naturally by using a sitemap generator, as they work using a web crawler similar to Googlebot.

Also: there is at least one Joomla plugin available to add a canonical tag (canonical tags are not a default Joomla feature). I personally think it is usually worth avoiding third party plug-ins whenever possible as they increase the amount of patching you have to do, and their code quality is not always great. They may also not integrate with any non-core Joomla components or modules you are using. However, you may find this does what you want - just make sure you read any reviews and have confidence in the code quality.

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