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We are hosting recurring events, and when you search in Google for that event, you always get an ealier installment of it that tops the list. This is of course obvious, as every time the new event starts from scratch, collecting media attention. Eventually it will top the list.

As these events are mostly the same each year, would it be a solution to add a canonical URL to the new event? And if so, do we run the risk to trigger some Google penalty as the events are not duplicate content strictly speaking?

301 redirects are not really an option because we need these pages accessible in our archives.

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Treating recurrent events is indeed not so easy. To avoid duplicate content issues, the best option is to use the same page each year (same URL), especially if the content is very similar. For this, think about not to use the date in the URL.

With this solution, you can take benefits of the old page SEO and you'll be sure to rank first the new event in the search engines. From my opinion, it is a pity to lose all the SEO work of the events each year but if you don't care about it, you can put the rel="canonical" tag on the old event page with the reference of the new event page URL (not the opposite!). Not sure the old event page will disappear from search engines but you're safe regarding duplicate content issues.

If you want to keep the old event page available for your users, think about change the URL and not to index it in the search engines anymore (by using the no-index meta tag and add the URL in your robots.txt for instance).

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  • Thanks. Unfortunately, this is no option because of the extended changes that are needed to the site. I'm primarily concerned if the solution I suggest is possibly a good one. – jberculo Jun 20 '16 at 15:57
  • This is the the best and the only option I know to treat recurrent events. Adding a canonical URL to the new event page with the old URL event will help you for duplicate content but not to rank with the new event at all. – Zistoloen Jun 21 '16 at 11:56
  • But will it remove the old url from the search results? I am not really interested in transferring ranking from one page to the other. – jberculo Jun 21 '16 at 11:58
  • It is a pity to lose all the SEO work of the events each year but if you don't care about it, you can put the rel="canonical" tag on the old event page with the reference of the new event page URL (not the opposite!). Not sure the old event page will disappear from search engines but you're safe regarding duplicate content issues. – Zistoloen Jun 21 '16 at 12:23
  • When I search the web I see that pages with rel="canonical" are not indexed, so I have to conclude that they will also be removed by google when I add it. – jberculo Jun 21 '16 at 13:18
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I guess the solution to your page is not rel=canonical because even when this might acomplish you goal, this may confuse Googlebot and result on lower ranking of the entire site based on the vague idea of "I don't understand this page" (plus, Google treats rel=canonical as a signal, not an order). In your case, I would add two things (both) to your HTML (adding only one -any of them- should solve the problem, but the more info we give to Google, the better they understand the site and this is better for us):

This was not created to solve your problem, but it could. Also it may makes your event appears in the Google Knowledge Graph. Please, note the endDate part.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "Event",
  "name": "Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers - Game 3 (Home Game 1)",
  "location": {
    "@type": "Place",
    "address": {
      "@type": "PostalAddress",
      "addressLocality": "Philadelphia",
      "addressRegion": "PA"
    },
    "url": "wells-fargo-center.html"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "AggregateOffer",
    "lowPrice": "$35",
    "offerCount": "1938"
  },
      "startDate": "2016-04-21T20:00",
      "endDate": "2016-04-21T21:30",  // This is the part yyou are looking for
      "url": "nba-miami-philidelphia-game3.html"
}
</script>

If you are shy about Schema Markup, is too hard for you or you want to give the more information to Google to ensure the result, there is a Meta Tag created exactly for what you are looking for:

<META NAME=”GOOGLEBOT” CONTENT=”unavailable_after: 23-Jul-2016 18:00:00 EST”>
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