If I reproduce a piece of content on my site, e.g. I reproduce an article I'd published on another section of the site, but in the skin of the new section, I'd have duplicate content issues. So, to get over this, I noindex the duplicate content page.
Can anyone tell me the difference between the canonical tag and the use of noindex, especially as a page that contains the canonical tag is dropped from Google's index anyway?
A noindex tag removes the page from the index, but the canonical tag (in theory and IMO in practice definitely more than the noindex tag) consolidates link weight. A canonical tag is like an 'I can't do a 301 escape route' to say 'the page referenced in the canonical tag is where I would 301 if I could', while a noindex tag just says 'don't show the page in the results.'
Thanks for the reply. But a page with a canonical tag doesn't make it into the index anyway I thought?
I can understand that pages already in existence need to transfer their PR, link value etc, but for brand new pages where you place duplicate content I fail to see the advantage of a canonical tag over a noindex.
"But a page with a canonical tag doesn't make it into the index anyway I thought?"
Quite the contrary. Pages with a canonical tag are more likely to end up in the index under that canonical URL. Without a canonical tag a search engine decides for itself which is the preferred version, which may not necessarily be what you prefer.
Personally I prefer not to use noindex tags, as I think I'd always prefer my content indexed as well as any links on the page. I use canonical URL tags to prevent duplicate content issues.
But if your noindex solution works fine for you, by all means stick with it.