Google: Do Not No Index Pages With Rel Canonical Tags

Mar 19, 2014 • 8:23 am | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

do not enterShould you use noindex a page that has a re=canonical tag on it? The answer is no.

We covered this question a few years back but now Google's John Mueller gave a much more concise and clear answer.

In a Google+ thread, John Lincoln pasted a conversation he had with Google's John Mueller on the topic.

Question: Is it okay to have both a rel canonical and a no index no follow on the same page?

Answer: No, you should not combine the noindex with a rel-canonical pointing at an indexable URL. I'd pick one, but not both.

noindex relcanonical

In 2009, John gave the same type of answer but more of a detailed response. John Lincoln posted his summary at his blog as well.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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03/19/2014 01:45 pm

In the old thread John was concerned with which one gets indexed first I don't think these days speed of indexation is much of an issue as long as your server can cope with all the bots. On the other hand you really don't want Google indexing links with tracking parameters of various kinds (navigation parameters, analytics, affiliate). Noindex is forcing... do not index Canonical at this time is just a suggestion which Google thankfully is using much better than a few years ago. However it would be wrong to rely on Canonical to prevent URLs which should not be in the index from being indexed. If Google doesn't support the use of the 2 together then they should, because they serve a different purpose. Noindex = do not index this page Canonical = index this page instead


03/19/2014 03:46 pm

So, wordpress with yoast SEO does not handle this right then. Wordpress sets the rel:conanical and you can use yoast to set the noindex. Setting the noindex with yoast does not change the rel:conanical of wordpress. So everyone in the world using wordpress with Yoast is doing it wrong.

Jon Hogg

03/19/2014 04:31 pm

Yep agree. if the canonical is ignored then you have two indentical indexed pages. In my experience G ignores canonical tags a lot more than they used to if the pages aren't a good enough match for each other, so you could well end up with that situation.

Gokhan Tunc

03/19/2014 05:11 pm

Actually this is a very basic rule. While canonical tag is telling to search engine that index this other page instead, no index tells not index this page at all. I generally use canonical tag both my personal web site and also at my seo agency office as i prefer continue to use my current pages.

Elena Gorsvan

03/19/2014 05:26 pm

I am confused about this. Same applies to Genesis. I am noindexing categories, tags and archives with Genesis theme and it has rel canonical by default, so what do we do now?


03/20/2014 08:17 am

Hi, I'm using Genesis as well as you, and my solution is to deactivate the "canonical" within the Genesis SEO Options. Go to this option, scroll down and uncheck the the archiv option.

Elena Gorsvan

03/20/2014 10:36 am

Thanks, I didn't even know this option was available.


03/20/2014 02:22 pm

Agree totally why put a Canonical on noindex page : just to confuse search engines !

John Britsios

03/20/2014 07:17 pm

With all respect for John Mueller, I am afraid that I must disagree. The "noindex" directive should not conflict with a canonical. I will explain why: If you have two similar pages (duplicated) and you only use a "canonical" attribute, you leave Googlebot decide which page they should pick up and display in their main index. If you add a "noindex to the page you do not want to be indexed, then you do not give Googlebot a choice to decide which page he should index, so he SHOULD index the page you want to have indexed. Makes sense?

John Britsios

03/20/2014 08:17 pm

Hey guys John Mueller clarified what is being misunderstood here. Check it out!

Gokhan Tunc

03/21/2014 09:17 am



04/21/2014 09:52 am

Hi (in advance, sorry for my english ^^) I would like to know your opinion about this use case. If i remove a caninical meta tags from a page (and add content on it). is that google penalizes referencing it. For example, an e-commerce site with categories that are opened gradually to SEO. Thanks in advance :) Regards. Benoit R.


06/01/2014 03:44 am

Wonderful, No wonder all our pages with noindex continue to be indexed despite thinking they were not

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