rel=canonical is a way to tell Google which the primary version of a URL is. It’s handy if you have substantially the same content on several URLs – perhaps because you have a shopping site and allow users to sort a list of products by price or name, and this is reflected in the URL.
Adding this meta tag used to work only for URLs on the same domain, but this has changed as this diagram from Google shows:
Google has announced today that it will support rel=canonical across domains – ie if you have the same content on more than one website, you can tell Google which is the main version you’d like it to index. It’s particularly handy if you’ve changed domain names, and don’t have a way to do server-side redirects on the old domain / server.
You can read more about the change to cross-domain rel=canonical here.
Maybe I can use it to get my original post on reporting restrictions for bloggers to stop being outranked by the duplicate version on the online journalism blog. *Scowls at Google.*
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