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I have many URL that I made 301 redirect now after 2 months I want to remove this redirect and set canonical tag instead, is it harmful for SEO and google?

Now:

example.com/ads/n-151617.html > 301 Redirect to example.com/ads/151617.html

Goal:

Stop 301 Redirect then use canonical:

example.com/ads/n-151617.html > canonical to example.com/ads/151617.html

  • You have /ads/ in your example URLs. You should block Googlebot from crawling ads. In the context of advertising, it shouldn't matter if you redirect or canonical, because Google shouldn't be seeing it anyway. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 19 '18 at 10:36
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    Setting aside the "ads" for a second, would you care if Google chose the non-canonical URL to index in the search results? If you switch to canonicals, Google may ignore it. Google is now reporting in Google Search Console that it frequently ignores canonical tags and chooses to index your non-canonical URL anyway. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 19 '18 at 10:38
  • @StephenOstermiller Why should I block /ads/ I don't want to block these URL from google index – Pedram Mar 19 '18 at 10:38
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    @StephenOstermiller these pages contains classified ads, not links for advertising or sell, a website like Craigslist, you know? | So I just want to know if I remove 301 redirect and put canonical tag instead, is it okay? – Pedram Mar 19 '18 at 11:02
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    See What is duplicate content and how can I avoid being penalized for it on my site? It doesn't really matter if you deal with internal duplication with redirects, canonicals, or doing nothing. Google detects duplication and indexes a single copy. Google wouldn't penalize sites for just having some internally duplicated pages. The only real difference between the methods is the amount of control you have over which version of the URLs get indexed. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 19 '18 at 11:35
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301 redirects are pretty permanent. And so if Google has crawled these 301s in the past it's tough to say when they will ever undo the 301 and recrawl the page.

You can change those urls to a canonical and this shouldn't harm your site at all. But just know that users who have visited these 301s, as well as Google, will still 301 redirect to the URL that was provided to them until their browser uncaches the 301.

It's fine to have duplicate content rel=canonical pages on your site. And this shouldn't penalize you at all. The only downside of this is that If you have 5 pages of duplicate content, with 4 of them pointing to the 1 canonical, Google may crawl all 5 of those pages before finding the correct one to index. This is a lot of extra crawl usage for its robot. And Googlebot likes to maximize how it spends it crawl allocations. Wasting some of the crawl allocations to duplicate pages could reduce the amount of pages Googlebot crawls on your site. Though if we are just talking about a handful of pages that are like this it's probably no big deal. If we're talking about thousands of pages then this could be an issue.

Ultimately, the undoing of the 301 is probably no big deal. But it will take some time for users and Google to be able to see the page again, maybe even forever as 301s are very permanent.

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You doesn't explain, the WHY. What are your goals on setting 301?

I would set 301 only in case these urls should no longer rank. If so, urls with n-, in case you've done everything ok, will after some time no longer rank. With done everything ok i means - you have not only set them to 301, but remove their internal linkage too.

But if they no longer rank - why in the world dou you want to canonicalize them? They should be at least deindexed or, optimally, 410-ed - their value equals zero, specially for Google.

  • I used 301 to avoid duplicate content, because both URL has same content. both are indexed and has rank. – Pedram Mar 19 '18 at 11:04
  • If so, than, if everything is done correctly, after some time Google should remove redirected urls from index. – Evgeniy Mar 19 '18 at 11:10
  • So, now If I remove redirect then use canonical, everything will be okay? – Pedram Mar 19 '18 at 11:11
  • if you do so, Google could decide, your canonicalized url is more relevant than canonical - and you get the same shit, as previously. If they no longer rank - noindex them. Or, if your users don't need them too - set them to status 410 gone. – Evgeniy Mar 19 '18 at 11:30
  • "I used 301 to avoid duplicate content" - that's also what rel="canonical" does. I'm also curious as to WHY... But why you now want to remove the 301 redirect? – DocRoot Mar 19 '18 at 22:32
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As long as the content of both sites remain the same you will not have any SEO problems using canonical. I prefer 301 redirect cause it's simpler to maintain (see official doc).

Can be complex to maintain the mapping on larger sites or sites where the URLs change often

Furthermore, keep in mind that, after two months with redirects, if you have no new links, it's possible that the old URLs are not going to be indexed.

  • So in conclusion, you are saying I keep using 301 redirect instead of canonical tag? – Pedram Mar 19 '18 at 11:10
  • Yes, it's simpler and effective. – Emirodgar Mar 19 '18 at 11:15

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