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I read this post here: What is a best canonical URL for a search result page?

and I have search page which can set more than one item like this:

example.com/search/index.php?keywords=fruits_bananas_apples

Which would be better for a canonical URL:

example.com/search/index.php

or

example.com/search/index.php?keywords=fruits_bananas_apples

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  • Firstly, it's not really recommended to use commas in your URLs, see my answer here about that. Second, what are you trying to accomplish with a canonical URL here? Are you concerned about duplicate content, or do you want search engines to index only one page (i.e., the search page), or something else?
    – dan
    May 25, 2016 at 5:48
  • concerning about duplicate content. May 25, 2016 at 5:49
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    Are you implying that searches with different options will produce very similar pages? If so, then you could either add a canonical URL to just the search page (the first URL above in your question), or do as John Mueller (from Google) suggested in the linked question: Search pages should be disallowed from crawling with the robots.txt.
    – dan
    May 25, 2016 at 5:55
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    thanks dan! Search pages should be disallowed from crawling with the robots.txt this is exactly what i wanted. thanks for the information May 25, 2016 at 5:58
  • No problem. I see you edited your question to change commas to undscores...FWIW, those aren't much better (use dashes, ampersands, or pluses instead). See this for more: Matt Cutts - Dashes vs. underscores. Good luck!
    – dan
    May 25, 2016 at 6:02

2 Answers 2

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Search pages should be disallowed from crawling with the robots.txt

see John Mullers comment on What is a best canonical URL for a search result page?

thanks dan!

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In general it might be a good idea to block crawling of search result pages, but there are cases where it can makes sense to allow crawling.

For example, if your search is the only or the primary way to navigate the site, and especially if you offer filters (or search operators) with pre-defined search terms. So instead of having a separate /category/ namespace (e.g., /category/movies), some sites use the search function for this: /search/category:movies.

And besides that: Even if you disallow crawling of search result pages, it can still make sense to provide the canonical link type for these pages (all kinds of tools might use it, e.g., for bookmarking).

So here’s an answer to the original question:

It would be wrong to use example.com/search/index.php as canonical URL for example.com/search/index.php?keywords=fruits_bananas_apples.

RFC 6596 makes clear that the canonical URL

[…] MUST identify content that is either duplicative or a superset of the content […]

As /search/index.php does (most likely) not contain or include the content from /search/index.php?keywords=fruits_bananas_apples, it’s not allowed to be specified as canonical URL.

A case where it would be appropriate for a search result to use the canonical link relation (just as an example to give you an idea, probably not worth to implement this one): Assuming that the order of the search terms does not matter, you could decide to use the URL with the search terms in alphabetical order as canonical URL, e.g.,

/search/index.php?keywords=apples_bananas_fruits

for URLs like

/search/index.php?keywords=apples_fruits_bananas
/search/index.php?keywords=fruits_bananas_apples
…

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