One of my projects got a major pagerank hit. We debugged to the depths. And there are so many variables, I'm not gonna get into that.

While trying to desperately restore our pagerank, I have debugged everything that I possible could. And today I found out, that Google has indexed our short-urls.

(Under short-urls I mean like: example.com/post-12-foo-foo-foo-foo-foo-very-lenghty-url and short it to exl.to/p12)

I have tried to put the short-url in the webmasters tools to deal with it, but I couldn't then. Because it was URL without any hosting behind it, just there for making URLS short to copy. It redirects only. But now, I see there is a way to do with CNAME, straight from the domain keeper.

Google has indexed everything, under that URL with the content. While I just recently added canonical-tag to show, how these pages should look like. So that means duplicated content? Which is bad right?

So, what is the method for this short-urls against double contenting? There is no robots.txt, so I cannot even block it. But how else to tell google, its the same site, don't index under these URL's and please, return my pagerank?

  • 2
    Usually, short URLs provide a 301 redirect to main pages that have its own canonical URLs and will not lead to any duplicate content. That means the short URLs won't be and can not be indexed. In your case, can you explain how the short URLs got indexed as separate pages? Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 19:04
  • Good point there mate. But, Im not the only one moz.com/blog/url-shortener-owl-li-indexed-in-google this site goes in depths with explaining such cases. Though, they had a commerical-url-shorterner. Quote: "Google does not say they don't index 301's or 302's. They state in the affirmative that they may index 302's - and they don't state anything either way about 301's." For some reason the canonical tag was added just week ago. Because, we didn't expect a redirecting domain, would ever get indexed. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 19:09
  • I got it to verify in the Webmasters Tools. It shows me the main sites robots.txt. Is there a command in the robots.txt, to not index anything ever, from the short url? Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


If you are the owner of the URL shortener, then you can do the following things:

  1. Use a 301 redirect instead of a 302 redirect.

  2. If you host the URLs, serve a rel=noindex in the header of the pages served through the shortened URL.

  3. Add a canonical URL tag to the header of the real page.

  4. Use rel=nofollowwherever you are using a shortened URL that uses a 302 redirect, or when you are unsure of the type of redirection.

  • Thank you for answering. However, the moz. resource was an example, of 302 and 301 do get indexed. And has nothing to do with my question. We dont use owl. We have our own short-url. And also, they were released all together. So Website A and Shorturl B was created at the same time. I cant send DMCA to myself. Our short urls dont even have hyperlinks, they are in input tags. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 20:06
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    If you own the URL shortner, you can do some things. For example, you can serve a rel=noindex in the header of the shortened page, and change the redirection from 302 to 301. And you are already using a canonical tag for the real page. These should remove the shortened pages from Google, eventually. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 3:33
  • 302 to 301 is a valid point. I figured out a way to do this in the PHP, so Google should get the hint now. But since the domain is not hosted anywhere, just redirects, then I cant add noindex to the original content page. Anyways, Can you put the 301 as an edit in your answer, so I can accept it. Because, my research shows me, that 301 is the right call. While I cannot control the redirect method from the domain host side, I can control it in my PHP core, who decodes the short-url. So its 302 -> 301 -> right content. Should be fixed :) Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 13:49
  • @Rana why recommend nofollow for linking to the shortened URL? That will prevent PageRank flowing to the target page... Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 21:55
  • @DisgruntledGoat The intention of the advise was to prevent Google from following those links and avoid similar problems. This is applicable only if the URL shortener uses a 302 redirect or if the user is unsure of the type of redirection. Taken out of context, this is meaningless as you rightly pointed out. I will reword myself. Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 6:13

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