On our website we have a bunch of old pages preserved for historical record. (These are older versions of the manual.) Most people, however, would be best served by the newer versions of these pages.

We've tried to put an obvious note in the upper corner of the screen, so hopefully people who land on that page will know that they should continue through to the new page. (Though due to reorganizing content, it's not necessarily a 1->1 correspondence.)

However, whenever you search Google for information that's contained on those pages, more often or not you'll be directed to the older pages rather than the newer ones. I know that when you move pages there are methods to tell search engines to use the new site instead, but I don't know if there's a way to do a "soft move" of the page which doesn't make the original inaccessible.

Is there some good way of indicating to search engines that the newer pages are preferred to the older pages, without breaking links to the older version and still providing them for people who need them? Or even just a way to tell Google (and other search engines) that the older pages are deprecated and shouldn't be ranked so highly?

Note that we're not really concerned about page ranking with respect to other domains, it's just that we want pages within our site to be ranked appropriately with respect to each other. We'd also like to avoid completely blocking the older pages from search engines.

1 Answer 1


You should probably implement a rel="canonical" element in the head section of the old content that points to the new content. For example:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/new-page">

This informs the search engines that the /new-page is preferred and should be returned in the search results instead. Note that this is advisory, so if the "new page" is vastly different then it might be ignored.

In your XML sitemap, you could also try reducing the priority of these old pages. Although whether Google takes much notice of that I'm not sure.

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