SEO Inc. Blog

Should you use rel=canonical or 301 redirects for Search Engine Optimization

As an SEO company, we run into questions like, “Should you use a rel=canonical or a 301 redirect” all of the time. While we are quite versed in answering these topics, it is always nice to hear information straight from Google. In this video, we hear Matt Cutts, head of WebSpam at Google, address the difference between rel=canonical and 301 redirect.

301 Redirect vs. rel=canonical for SEO

As mentioned in the video, you only loose a tiny bit of link juice if you do a 301 redirect. Google has configured the 301 redirect this way because if you didn’t loose any link juice, webmasters would implement many more 301 redirects opposed to internal links. It is also mentioned that link weight from a 301 redirect does not change over time.

Google actually prefers 301 redirects vs. rel=canonical. Now we understand this is not always the best solution, as it is dependent on the particular issue affecting the website, however, 301 redirects are more widely supported and the user will be carried along with the 301 redirect. The rel=canonical is recommended by Google in the case that you cannot get to the server headers.

Now there are of course other situations when you’ll want to use a rel=canonical. For instance, maybe you have poor tracking code on your URL that cannot be removed, or you cannot implement 301s properly. In this case you will still need to use rel=canonical. Heck, in some cases robots.txt may be the right solution.

301 redirects and rel=canonicals certainly have their own distinct place in the SEO world. If you have questions about the search engine optimization methods ask below.

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee,, Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.