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How to markup the documentation of the different version of our product?

considering that

  • The content is not strictly identical across version,
  • but it is very often the same,
  • we wish newer version to be preferred by seo engines,
  • but older versions are preferred since they are older.

for a couple of year our strategy has been to follow this answer to the question

  • have all url prefixed by their version
  • create a "latest" prefix that is a symlink pointing to the most recent version
  • the most recent version have a <link rel="canonical" targeting the "latest"
  • all version (except the most recent) start with a disclaimer indicating that this version is not the latest, this disclaimer include a link pointing to the latest version

This is an example of our urls :

This is an example of the disclaimer including a link to the latest version picture of the link pointing to the latest version


This was meant to strengthen the "latest" url by having a stable url over time and by having several pages linking to it.

This does not seem to work, since google continues to prefer olds pages. What should we do? I only see the nuclear weapon here : adding on all version a <link rel="canonical" targeting the "latest".

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  • I think your nuclear option (canonical to latest) may be the fair assessment here. Honestly I'm quite surprised that Google has been preferring the old versions, but maybe it has to do with external backlinks. – Maximillian Laumeister May 18 '20 at 20:25

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