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Ok we have a website that is ranking number1 for a VERY NICE keyword. We would prefer if a different website gets that top spot.

Question

Lets refer to the site that is ranking nr1 as site1 we want to get site2 to rank number1 and not site1

If I put rel="canonical"( pointing to site 2) on site1 that is ranking top spot, will that change or help site2 to rank top spot?

  • will their rankings swap?

  • Will it give a (majoir) boost to site2?

  • Will it get ignored?

  • Is this advisable

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In short: no. Canonical is a kind of recommendation to use another site for ranking because of slightly duplicate content. If you want to let rank another site you should:

  • move the ranking content from the site 1 to the site 2, which should rank in the future
  • 301 redirect site 1 to site 2

If you only redirect site 1 to site 2, without moving of content, Google will be able to read the body of the site 1 despite of redirect and think, it would be a soft-404, which could result in missing ranking transition from site 1 to the site 2

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rel="canonical" specify unique and single version of a page. If you want to rank other specific page instead of current page, you need to transfer page rank strength for the current page to target page.

for this, first you need to create a permanent redirect to new page. Additionally work on second page.

this work will be: make target page as much good as current ranking page user friendly

Google search algorithm judge pages by quality and relevancy to user experiences. It is dynamic. To maintain ranking, you need to apply techniques mentioned above.

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A few questions for you - is the page on site1 and site2 essentially duplicates of each other? Or is there different content on both? If the pages are basically the same content (or exactly the same content), the most appropriate answer is to redirect the page on site1 to site2 and have that redirect return with a 301 status response code. The redirect will tell Google that the page has moved elsewhere and Google may decide to rank site2 in spot 1. If you are okay risking losing the ranking, then go this route.

The canonical is probably not the best route. A rel canonical is seen by Google as a suggestion. They could ignore it altogether or they could see it as a redirect. Personally, I've seen more instances of this approach hurting rankings than the redirects. Here is more about what Google says about cross domain canonical tags. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/12/handling-legitimate-cross-domain.html

Ideally, the best answer is to leave site1 as the ranking domain since you have a decent ranking if you really want to keep the ranking and don't want to risk ranking loss. What is your reason for wanting to switch sites? Is there a way you can adjust content or design on site1 to accomplish the same thing? If you can alter site1's content or design (though, in hopefully small ways as to not be enough change to affect the ranking), then you'd be in the safest category of not risking a ranking loss.

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    Matther thank you very much for your answer. The 2 sites sell the same product and although it has similar content it is in no way duplicate of each other. It's just that site 2 is better designed then site 1 we don't have the time or resources at the moment to change site1 it will be a hugh undertaking. Site 2 (which is not ranking) is fairly new but it is a perfect selling page hench we want to get it where site 1 is.......your opinion? Greatly appreciated – Marilee Nov 20 '15 at 8:34
  • Hey Marilee. All right, so if the sites aren't duplicated content, then the canonical is the wrong choice. The best answer is going to be redirecting site1 over to site2 via a 301 redirect. This will tell Google that you have permanently moved the page from site1 to the page on site2. Site2 may began ranking in that spot. Or, it is a possibility though that you'll lose the ranking or get a lower ranking. If it were me, the safer answer would be to make site1's page look like site2's page or make a small investment to improve site1's sales b/c it is less risky than the redirect. – Matthew Edgar Nov 20 '15 at 23:34

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