There has been huge discussion happening over the past and still is going on the difference between canonical tag and 301 redirect. It has been a most controversial topic in the field of Digital marketing. A lot of Digital Experts still says that there is no big difference between them as their purpose of use is almost the same and some says they are not similar in either way. Lately about the use of rel=canonical and 301 redirect we’ve seen a decent discussion on various Q&A websites and also on the social media. Huge giants of Digital marketing industries i.e. SEOmoz , Search Engine land and experts from Google have also given their views on this topic.
A 301 Redirecting code is the standard for permanent redirection of a page to another page. On the other hand canonical tag, this tag was announced in the year 2009, but at that time only few people knew about it and even it was known to fewer people still they hesitate to use it because it created the biggest misunderstanding as if the person is using 301 redirect code than why to use it. They were not even clear whether it will affect the link juice or not and even were confused about how many times they can you this tag for a single website.
So when even the experts are not 100% sure about their views, Everyone get confused i.e.
• Why should I use 301 redirect?
• Why Canonical tag is important?
• Which one is more SEO friendly between canonical tag and 301 redirect?
• What is more important between Canonical tag and 301 redirect?
• What is the basic difference between canonical tag and 301 redirect?
So, I am going to provide you some important factors and details about both of them. So that you can easily understand the basic difference between them and can apply as per your needs and requirement.
A 301 Redirecting code is the standard for permanent redirection of a page to another page. With the implement of this you will pass the original page’s link authority, relevance and link juice i.e SEO ranking power to the page you are redirecting to. By implementing this if any user tries to open your link with a different link. i.e. If “http://digitalmantra.co.in” is redirected to “http://www.digitalmantra.co.in” It will always take the user to “http://www.digitalmantra.co.in“. Even Google’s Engineer Matt Cutts has said, you’ll lose “just a tiny little bit, not very much at all” which “doesn’t change over time”.
Definitely there will be a bit loss by redirection in the ranking power and link juice but that will be the minor part as you may see a better upgrade and results after some time.
Canonical Tag or rel=canonical element, oftenly called the “canonical link” is an HTML element. It helps webmasters to prevent duplicate content issues. With this tag you specify the “canonical URL”, which is the “preferred” version of a web page. It might affect a bit on the ranking of your website but will be much better and efficient for future.
Again using the previous example, if your website shows exactly same page with two different links i.e “http://digitalmantra.co.in” & “http://www.digitalmantra.co.in”. So the crawlers might take them as two different websites and may penalize you for that. To tackle this problem webmasters may use canonical tag. If canonical tag is applied on “http://www.digitalmantra.co.in”, you are directly telling the crawlers or robots to take it as primary link and all the link juice will be forwarded to this link only and definitely your ranking will boost up.
By applying this tag you just gave hint to robots to crawl and forward all the link juice to this link and all other pages are duplicate but the visitors or users may still open your website or webpage with any of the link.