Google May Consolidate Ranking Signals To Canonical Partner URL Even If It's Not The Source

Jan 31, 2024 - 7:21 am 3 by

Google Merging Content Signals

Lily Ray asked Google's John Mueller what does Google do with all the ranking signals from the content syndication partners when Google Search decides which URL should be the canonical. It seems Google will consolidate most, if not all, of those signals to the Google-selected canonical in this case.

In short, if you have a news site that syndicates out its content to partners and for some reason Google decides that the original news site is not the original source, and assigns the canonical to one of the partners, what happens to the links and other signals pointing to the true original source?

Lily asked on X:

If an article is syndicated across partner websites, and Google chooses the partner as canonical (even if canonical on partner site to original source), does this mean all SEO value is consolidated to partner URL?

E.g. link signals, UX signals, social media signals etc. from the group would be consolidated into Google's chosen canonical? And each time this happens, does that represent an "opportunity cost" from the original site, in the sense that they lose out on that SEO value?

John Mueller from Google replied:

Hi Lily! It's complicated, and not all the things you're asking about are things we necessarily even use. In general, if we recognize a page as canonical, that's going to be the page most likely rewarded by our ranking systems.

So yea, Google doesn't use all those signals that Lily mentioned but the signals that Google does use, it seems to reward the canonical that Google has selected, even if it is wrong.

Here are those posts:

Here is a secondary response:

Google has provided guidance around syndication partners and Google Search and has promised to relay feedback from publishers on that guidance. It's not an easy thing for Google to deal with and never really has been.

Forum discussion at X.

Update: Google's Danny Sullivan added more clarification in this post:

He said:

I would suggest this is more "Google may consolidate the ranking signals from a syndication partner's URL *if you haven't required them to use noindex as recommended* for people who are concerned about outranking syndication partners they voluntarily give the content to.

I know you mention our guidance in your story. But no one might fully understand this key point from the headline and the post.

Cross-domain canonicalization is hard for reasons why we explained last year (my thread is below). That's why we recommend noindex. Does exactly what cross-domain canonicalization is trying to do -- not let a syndicated page outrank the original. But it does it better, because there's no potential confusion. The syndicated content can't rank with noindex.

And anticipating "what if someone uses my content without permission," it's rare we'd actually consider something like that to be a canonical as shown in Search Console. Open to examples or people can report using indexing support.

 

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