Are you an online savvy? If yes then you must have come across this issue at the time of browsing a website. 301 redirect! This is quite a common issue with the website browsers but what I’m supposed to explain today is the common mistake made by the users. 301 redirecting is often mistaken with canonical issues. These two appear to be similar but actually those are not. Things need to be explained quite clearly so that one can possess a clear concept about the differences between these two attributes.
301 redirecting is to inform the search engines that a page has been permanently moved and the page needs to be removed from the index and all the SEO credit that has been acquired by the page, to be transferred to the new page. On the contrary, canonical issue is different. It signals the search engines that a document has multiple versions of the page. Under such circumstance, the URL that is listed in the canonical attribute is the original one. That particular URL should be indexed only and at the same time, the duplicate pages will be there in the website but those shouldn’t be indexed by the search engines. Aside from this commonly made mistake, there are some other common problems regarding the 301 redirecting:
- When the owner should use the rel canonical tag over the 301?
- Are there any possibilities that the rel canonical would hurt the site?
- When should not to use the rel canonical?
- What to do when no developers are found to implement 301?
Let’s start with the 301 redirects: What it is and when to use
301 is basically a HTTP status code that is commonly used to inform the software and to the search engines that the original page that it is trying to access has been permanently moved to a different and new web page. Right when the browsers receive this code it automatically shifts to the new URL which is followed by the 301 status code. Here’s when it is to be used;
- When a URL has been permanently moved due to re-branding or something else.
- If the web page is replaced or moved
- If the owner has permanently expired the content or 404 error has taken place and you want to point to another page.
Incorrect use of the 301 redirects should not be entertained at all. This redirect is not intended to be used for pointing all the web pages of as new website.
Canonical attribute: What it is and when to be used:
The basic difference is that canonical attribute is not a “redirect”. This attribute will not redirect the visitors to a different and new URL instead, it works like a signal to inform the search engines about which page needs to be indexed of a website when similar contents appear on a website. Let’s now find out when to apply this;
- When there are duplicate contents being used in a website and both are needed to be visible simultaneously.
- When there is a need of content syndication
- When 301 redirects cannot be implemented
- There are dynamic pages that generate multiple URLs for a single page
Common difficulties with both 301 redirects and Canonical attribute
There are few common problems with both 301 redirects and Canonical attributes and while discussing the differences between these two, these problems should also be explained. The primary problems with “301 redirect” are that;
- It might not be possible for you to implement the HTTP status code.
- Even sometimes, it takes few while for the search engines to attribute the new page with similar search authority of the previous page.
- The most common difficulty with this “301 redirect” is that it is often incorrectly used by the users.
There are some common issues with “canonical attribute” as well and now we will have a look at those problems.
- The first issue is that it’s like a suggestion and basically the search engines are not obliged to follow the same. This also refers the occasional display of the old pages by some search engines.
- The bigger problem with this attribute is that it is most commonly misused.
These are the basic differences between 301 redirects and canonical attributes. It has been seen for past few years that redirection of pages or domains or WWW or HTTPS has become one of the necessaries among the onsite SEO works. Most of the SEO experts do not have enough knowledge on 301 and canonical issues and that is why they always fail to give permanent ranking for their clients website. As an SEO company we have published this blog as a tutorial for the experts. After reading this blog now the things will be easier for you to understand and deal with.