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On my site both of these return the same content:

  • http://example.com/tags/sky
  • http://example.com/tags/sky/page1

Using rel=canonical on page1 increases the coding complexity a bit, so can I do a (htaccess) 301 redirect

http://example.com/tags/sky/page1 to http://example.com/tags/sky?

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Short answer Yes.

The difference between the two as clearly pointed by this article:

301 – Hey, Search Engines: My page is no longer here, and has permanently moved to a new page. Please remove it from your index and pass credit to the new page.

Canonical – Hey, (most) Search Engines: I have multiple versions of this page (or content), please only index this version. I'll keep the others available for people to see, but don't include them in your index and please pass credit to my preferred page.

Regarding the amount of PageRank or link juice that would be lost from canonical redirects, Cutts has also said "there's really not a whole lot of difference" between the 301 and the canonical. This means the 301 and the canonical will lose "just a tiny little bit, not very much at all" of credit from the referring page.

In either case (301 or Canonical) between 90-99% of link juice (ranking power) is passed to the redirected page.

At SEO advice: url canonicalization Matt Cutts says that

Suppose you want your default url to be http://www.example.com/ . You can make your webserver so that if someone requests http://example.com/, it does a 301 (permanent) redirect to http://www.example.com/ . That helps Google know which url you prefer to be canonical. Adding a 301 redirect can be an especially good idea if your site changes often (e.g. dynamic content, a blog, etc.).

An article on juice and PR

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    Can you cite where you got Between 90-99% of link juice from? or did you just make that up for example purposes? a tiny bit isn't between 1-9%. Changing from canonical to 301 is not going to make any difference, in fact you won't even notice any difference, that is how much a tiny bit is... Structure your site for users, not search engines... rest comes naturally. Oct 3 '15 at 14:44
  • @SimonHayter the info was from moz.com I agree with you that website is for users but there's no harm if you take precautions..
    – 000
    Oct 3 '15 at 15:01
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Without 301 redirects, two same pages could be considered like a duplicate for some search engine (there is a life out of google search engine). On the other hand, if you create 301 redirects, any search engines will understand the target page.

Still canonical is useful because sometimes bots & scripts add variables like: myvar=blabla at the end of the url. I think about the case when your page can be displayed with the same content from a different url with a variable at the end and you are not aware of it. Canonical ensures that any bots will understand the real url.

Consequently, i think both 301 redirects and canonical are important because they are different (see answer from Rishi)

Nevertheless, 301 redirect is better because it is more widely recognized according to Matt Cutts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW5UL3lzBOA

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The actual concept of Canonical Tags is for Search Engine not for user. 301 Redirect is for Bots and Humans (Users). Put Canonical to these pages

http://example.com/tags/sky/page1

not redirect them. Because If you redirect them so User will not access further pages of these SKY tags.

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