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I've decided to remove some of my site's pages from the Google index to focus more of the indexed pages on higher quality pages. The pages I'm going to remove are already in the index. These removed pages are filtered pages which will continue to exist, I just don't want them in the google index because they add little quality to the same page without any filter selected. I've added in webmaster tools specification of narrow for the parameters that set these filters, but it doesn't seem this changes anything in how he handles these pages.

So I'm considering three options:

  1. Adding <meta name="robots" content="noindex" /> to the html header of these filtered pages
  2. 301 to the non-filtered page that contains the most similar information and will remain in the index
  3. Canonical tag. Which I'm not sure is exactly the mainstream use case, as these aren't really the same pages.

Which should I use?

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301 When relevant pages exist otherwise just use 410 gone. –  bybe Jun 8 at 16:10
    
@bybe and it's ok these page still exist for non crawlers? –  Noam Jun 8 at 16:14
    
@bybe as I've mentioned these are filtered pages, so I'm not actually removing them from the site, just from the Google index. –  Noam Jun 8 at 16:31
    
I actually say NoIndex for the simple reason that a 301 will not remove the pages from the index, but just possibly push them down in the SERPs if they are low performing. In effect, you would have 2 URLs for the same content. –  closetnoc Jun 8 at 17:43
    
Yes. I do like your site- BTW! I would think that you want the page with the filters to still work and the 301 would redirect the page to another thus in effect breaking the filter. If you NoIndex it, it just won't show up in the SERP. But at the same time, do you really want to do this? It is another page that can capture traffic. Have you looked at your web analytics to be sure? –  closetnoc Jun 8 at 17:59

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Google has a blog post about handling the sort of navigation your site has and the post has lots of examples and suggestions - eg nofollow, robots.txt, canonical tags, separate hosts. - as well as best & worse practices which you might find helpful. Faceted navigation

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I think/hope this paragraph there is relevant: If you’d like to consolidate indexing signals, consider adding rel=”canonical” from the secondary host to a superset URL on the main host (e.g. www2.example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&price=5-10 may specify a rel=”canonical” to the superset “sour gummy candies” view-all page, www.example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&page=all). so I'll probably go with the canonical option. –  Noam Jun 9 at 20:05

In your case you should use canonical, because: 1. 301 redirect will "kill" your pages not only for Google, but for visitors too.
2. Meta robots isn't the way of removing from index Google is recommend.

Canonical is a perfect solution in this case for you.

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I disagree. I cannot see how canonical will stop the parameter trap at all. NoIndex will remove pages from the index. That is known. But that is not the point. It is not the index and the number of URLs, but the parameters generating pages that appear to be duplicate in nature or looping conditions. Stopping this is the goal. The NoIndex with a NoFollow if possible will solve the problem. His parameters are valid. Just causing a problem with near duplicate or duplicate content in some cases. –  closetnoc Jun 8 at 19:35
    
If you place canonical tag from every page you need to remove from index to every her "main" page, it will remove the law quality links from the index, while they will still exist. –  Marian Jun 8 at 20:54
    
I do not disagree under normal circumstances. I won't argue with you today either. I have to admit being a bit torn on this one. I know the NoIndex and NoFollow will work and stop the spidering of the parameters which is the problem, but your answer may be just as good and I cannot see it. Our friend Noam has a tough choice ahead. –  closetnoc Jun 8 at 23:59

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