I've got the same page and data available on multiple sites (on different domains), but only one of those sites is really that data's "home" and I want that "home" site to show up in search results for that data over/instead of the other sites. Am I right in thinking that a canonical link is the best way to do this? Google's page about canonical links seems to suggest that canonical links to different domains are kind of weird and should be avoided if possible.

If not, are there other ways to accomplish this?

EDIT: to be clearer, I've got a data set that is available on several websites. Each site has a subset of that data that it's "home" to. So when search engines point to data in subset A, I want the link to go to site A, even though that data is available on all sites.

2 Answers 2


I'm currently giving this some thought as I'm thinking of implementing something very similar on our own merchant site.

Looking at the google explanation you cited though, suggests there's no technical reason why providing a "canonical" across different domains wouldn't work.

There are situations where it's not easily possible to set up redirects. This could be the case when you need to migrate to a new domain name using a web server that cannot create server-side redirects. In this case, you can use the rel="canonical" link element to specify the exact URL of the domain preferred for indexing. While the rel="canonical" link element is seen as a hint and not an absolute directive, we do try to follow it where possible.

Your example Our setup varies slightly from yours in that rather than seperate domains, we're using subdomains to internationalise the overall site. This allows us to present different converted prices to users of the different subdomains/webapps whilst still allowing us to have completely centralised management of the data.

For Example:-

  • www.oursite.com - UK domain.
  • us.oursite.com - US domain.
  • eu.oursite.com - EU domain.

The problem with this setup though, is brochure/informational content such as some the helpful guides we have on the site, which we use as content provision for the site, staging links in to products within the site. We currently have perhaps 3/4 good quality versions of exactly the same content (we haven't got the money yet to translate content, but plan to eventually).

I'm just gonna go for it in the next month or so when I've finished some core work on the site, hopefully canonical linking all of these back the "www" version of the content (just for some of the brochure info), whilst leaving products as seperate entities in their own right, in the "canonical" sense.

I'd say just go for it!

you can always switch back if it's not working as well as anticipated!


The best way would be to block the sites you don't want ranking with a robots.txt file. It will have the same effect as the canonical tag, and is the more appropriate tool to use in this case.

  • I still want the other sites to be indexed...I just want the "home" site to show up first. May 22, 2012 at 16:43
  • The canonical tag is not what you are looking for then. G implemented the tag because they do not want duplicate content ranking, sometimes when they picked which version to keep and which to discard webmasters got mad because they picked the wrong one, so they gave the canonical tag to allow webmasters to choose. It's not a priority listing so much as an "if I can only have 1 I want this one".
    – Joshak
    May 22, 2012 at 16:51
  • If you want them all to be indexed, build more links to the "home" site then you do to the others. Make sure the content is indexed on the home site before you add it to the others, and reference the home site as the source for the content on the others. It will take some balancing but essentially you'll have to SEO the home site better then the others.
    – Joshak
    May 22, 2012 at 16:54
  • See my update. The point is not for one site to always win out. May 22, 2012 at 20:02

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