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We have our domains like, example.com/page/ID/descriptive_title. For emails and links we use, example.com/page/ID/, because it's easier than typing out full titles.

We have our site configured to throw a 301 and redirect back to the titled URL because we thought a descriptive URL would be better than just an ID for SEO.

I've read a few places recently that connecting via a 301 can drop a pages rank by 10%; or rather only give it 90% of it's credibility. Is this true, and if so would it be best to just have the example.com/page/ID/ return the 200 with the canonical link element?

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    No, that's not true. – John Conde Feb 22 '15 at 18:45
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    This would only apply for search and links found by search and not for links in e-mails- unless I did not read your question correctly. Some say that there is a bit of a drop being once removed though there is no proof of this- as John says. I have not seen any negative effect. Still, I prefer to avoid 301 redirects as much as possible from an SEO standpoint, however, they do become necessary sometimes. If your link is in your e-mail and it redirects to a page, this has absolutely no effect on SEO since search is not involved. – closetnoc Feb 22 '15 at 19:03
  • Oh, yea guess that makes sense about the emails, bots will never get into that. Thanks. – chris85 Feb 23 '15 at 2:05
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This is not true. I think you misunderstood what you read. When you apply a 301 redirect, you lose some SEO value (a little) of the redirected page but gives more credits to the page you get (if the redirect is well thinking and useful for users). But this is apply for links found on a website, not emails.

Regarding emails, search engines don't see the links (they only browse websites). Therefore, there is no consequences on SEO.

Regarding links through the navigation of the site, by applying the 301 redirects, you thought about visitors before SEO and this is the right way to do. Moreover, using the rel="canonical" tag and having two URLs with the same content can be confusing for your visitors. That's why I think the 301 redirect is in your case the best option you have. By the way, the Stack Exchange network websites use also this technique : if you click on your question link with only the id, you're redirected to the question link with the title. Try here.

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