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Canonical Tags Ė Different Content

 9:16 am on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi All

Has anyone experience canonicalizing pages that donít have similar content.

My clientís website is an event driven and itís got 10,000ís of expired pages. These pages return a 200 response. He wants to place the parent page in the canonical tag.

Iím not sure of the likely result or the risks involved.

Any thoughts?




 12:52 pm on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google will almost definitely ignore those tags - I'd just save the bandwidth.


 8:21 pm on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

If the content is gone, send "410 Gone".

On the ErrorDocument page, link to the major site sections, and important pages to help the visitor find their way.


 8:24 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

If any of those 10,000 pages have incoming links - why not 301 removed/deleted pages to the relevant "parent category" or "overview page" --- or since it's events the really cool and advanced thing to do would be to redirect "blue widget get-together 2007"; "blue widget get-together 2008" and "blue widget get-together 2009" and point them to "blue widget get-together 2010"

If the pages haven't been deleted, but are there for reference purposes then I would make sure they link back to the parent category with breadcrumbs and also link from all past "blue widget get-together" events to the current one.

canonicals are for canonicals aka. exactly the same or close-to-identical content pages.



 9:07 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

Thanks for the advice. I only wish I could use it.

The website has a complex architecture and after a few yrs, I still haven't got my head around it. However in a nutshell it's only after the 200 response is sent, do we know it's an expired event.

Therefore we can't send a 301 or 410 response code. I am trying to re-use some event urls but itís a long tedious process.

Also these pages have 1000's of links including .edu links.

In some instances the parent category is also expired. When this is the case I gather that the Canonical Tag will work and the "value" is passed up. At least we should be able to centralise the value of these pages.

However this could be a false positive as once we create new events within that category the content will be different and the Canonical Tag will be ignored.

I'm running out of options on this one. Changing the site architecture is not an option as itíll cost at least 6 figures.

Thanks again


 10:27 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Changing the site architecture is not an option as itíll cost at least 6 figures.

That is way beyond crazy.


 11:03 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

That is way beyond crazy.

It's a complex ecommerce site with various web servers, application servers, app instances and other pieces of hardware I don't get.

Header Response is sent by one of the web servers and the application server calculates what content to display. (or something like that).

So headers are sent by the time we know itís an expired page


 11:42 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

404 would waste any IBLs.

But if leaving them as a 200 and serving a standard 'event over' wording means thousands of dupes, I think this would be even worse. IMO it would be preferable to leave the page as is rather than delete/replace the content and just leave boilerplate and template.

If you really, really can't do a 301 to another useful page then I think either a 404 to clean out the index or doing nothing would be preferable to filling the index with duplicate content, whether linked to or not.

But, like others, I don't believe that you can't get the issue fixed. Hiring a top notch multi-skilled programmer with the requisite coding, platform and SEO knowledge for a day or two will not cost anything like six figures.

You said the header response of 200 is being sent by one server then another displays the content. So send a different header response and different content. Whatever routines are running can be analysed and changed.

Can you not contact the people who built the system?


 12:17 pm on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

if you have 1000's of backlinks I would just get someone in "outsourceia" or an intern or another form of gray/cheap labor to manually write redirects for you. IMO that would be worth it if you really have that many good links.

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