Rel Canonical and No Index No Follow on Same Page Google SEO

In search engine optimization, you often run into really random technical issues. The reason is that you might have one piece of code telling the search engine one thing and another giving it a different direction. In so many cases, the search engine just gets confused and it limits the website from getting traffic.

One situation that has come up a few times in my career is having a client ask me if they should use rel canonical and no index no follow on the same page.

Should use rel canonical and no index no follow on the same page?

It is industry standard to use one or the other. Generally, best case is 301 redirect, next it is rel canonical, next it is no index and no follow and last it is robots.txt.

If Google crawls the no index and no follow first, the rel canonical may be ineffective. The purpose of the rel canonical is to pass the link weight on to the alternate version and tell Google that this is the correct version of the page for the index.

Here are the best articles on the topic.

Important points on rel canonical and no index no follow

This is taken directly from a webmaster thread commented on by Google’s Jon Mueller.

“This is definitely an interesting question :-). Before the rel=canonical link element was announced, using noindex robots meta tags was one way that webmasters were directing us towards canonicals, so this is certainly something we know and understand. However, with the coming of the rel=canonical link element, the optimal way of specifying a canonical is (apart from using a 301 redirect to the preferred URL) is to only use the rel=canonical link element.”

Although Google states this clearly, I have to say that the documentation is very sparse. Intuitively, I have always recommended one or the other. But it could be considered that having the no index no follow lower on the page might allow Google to find the rel canonical, rank the appropriate page and then find the no index no follow and confirm the drop of the page in the index. Because of this, I went straight to John Mueller at Google.

Question Asked Directly to Google

Noindex no follow rel canonical same page

Noindex no follow rel canonical same page

It should be noted that no index and the Google URL removal tool are the only confirmed ways to completely remove a page from the index.

“The NOINDEX meta tag gives a good way — in fact, one of the only ways — to completely remove all traces of a site from Google (another way is our url removal tool). That’s incredibly useful for webmasters. The only corner case is that if Google sees a link to a page A but doesn’t actually crawl the page, we won’t know that page A has a NOINDEX tag and we might show the page as an uncrawled url. There’s an interesting remedy for that: currently, Google allows a NOINDEX directive in robots.txt and it will completely remove all matching site urls from Google. (That behavior could change based on this policy discussion, of course, which is why we haven’t talked about it much.).” Matt Cutt’s Google

It is important to point out that if you block your website with robots.txt Google cannot see a rel canonical or a no index tag.

Summary on rel canonical and no index no follow

I believe that Google stated it pretty clear. Use rel canonical or no index no follow, not both. So I sticking with that, and I think you should too.

Comments

  1. James says

    I found this article very informative! I was wondering though how the scenario would look if you had a follow/noindex URL with a canonical tag on it? If the preferred URL, i.e. where the canonical tag was pointing, was being followed and indexed would it accumulate the link juice from the follow/noindex URL? Since the links on that noindex Url are being followed shouldn’t the canonical tag direct that juice back to the preferred URL?

  2. John E Lincoln says

    Hi James,

    That is an interesting question. I think it is a good thought. But the way I understand it, you do not want to have a noindex on a page that also has a canonical tag. While Google might follow the link in some cases, in other cases it will just skip the page because of the noindex. It really just depends on what Google crawls first and the directive it decides on. When I spoke with Google about this, they basically said that you should not try to trick the search engine like this. It would just be confusing and potentially harmful. So I would recommend not having a noindex on a page that also has rel canonical. Rel canonical is a better directive whenever you are trying to push Google to the correct page and pass the link juice. Now, if you dont care about that a noindex is fine.

    The way to deal with each of these situations is different depending on the website.

    Thanks for the comment. – John

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