I'm working on a site that has duplicate content as a consequence of its product catalog architecture, which categorizes products based on year (e.g.
/2018/product-page). A product does not change year over year, but each has its own webpage with only subtle content variations between them, and they're all indexed.
The architecture will eventually change and address duplicate content issues, but I'm considering placing
canonical links on the site sooner than later. However, it has come to my attention that a previous SEO removed them. No-one knows why, but I suspect it relates to this scenario.
It would be possible to apply canonicals to future-year product URLs that point to current-year URLs, but the team that would handle the development is heavily tasked with too many larger priorities, so I'm stuck with a binary choice for the present time - canonicals vs. no canonicals.
I do not believe there's a penalty risk at this time -- the site is in the travel space and this issue is surprisingly common -- so set that notion aside. My question is whether there's a reason to think that
canonical links applied before architectural changes may hinder more than help the site's SEO? I cannot think of one, and in general the site is lacking a lot of check-the-box type optimizations such as
canonical links, hence the desire to get this done.