As Google included the loading speed of the site as one criterion on its ranking, there are also some other relative concerns which the webmasters are trying to clarify along with this new change. One notable of which is regarding the use of 301 redirects and rel=”canonical”, specifically, which is preferable or advantageous between the two; is it the former that is best in ensuring that the users and the search engine are directed to the correct page, or the latter which is commonly utilized for several pages with similar content?
This query is what has been recently clarified by Matt Cutts in a webmaster video by focusing on the advantages of 301 redirects over rel=”canonical”. Apparently, this has arisen out of the what has been suggested in a previous video in 2009 that the canonical may be used when the redirect cannot be utilized. And yet, the main point of the matter is that the 301 affects performance because it requires browsers to make extra “round-trip” to the servers; thus, it is somewhat logical to ask whether it is just favorable to use the canonical over the other.
Here are the essential points of Matt to enlighten that question:
• The Decision is Up to the Webmasters – this is paraphrased from the introductory statement which Matt has given as though he was trying to emphasize that webmasters know what is best for them to use for the benefit of their sites. But nevertheless, he just added that for him it is favorable to use 301 because of some considerations which are mostly congruent to the goal of Google to enhance the operation of the search engine and, more so, the users’ search experience.
• Users, Browsers, Search Engine know how to Deal with that – it is the main justification or support which was explained by Matt as he recommended 301 over the canonical. He elucidated that the familiarity of the users with it is what would make it more preferable or effective than the other.
• Redirect is More Friendly to the Users – since Google’s aim or priority is to enhance users’ search experience, it does follow then that the team would most likely to prefer using that which is more favorable to them. Matt did not further clearly explain that point, or give specifications as to what aspect does it make a good difference, but he simply said that it directs the users to the right page without giving them hassle, etc.
• 301 redirects Do not Directly Affect Performance – one reason why some webmasters do not prefer what is being suggested to them is, perhaps, the undesirable experience that they have had in using such. However, taking into account what Matt Cutts had explained, it seems that the effect of the 301 is dependent on how it is being utilized by the webmasters. There is a need to further clarify this matter, but nevertheless, trying it yourself would prove if it is really true or not.
Why Google Prefers 301 redirects?
The explanation of Matt about the matter is quite helpful, but it is somewhat insufficient to fully understand why is such is his preference over the other, and, thus, the following reasons or advantages of 301 redirects which are taken from webmasters tool help may be one helpful way to derive at a right judgment:
• Accessing your site using various URLs is possible with 301 redirects. Therefore it is essential that you are going to choose one among those URLs which you prefer as destination and use to other the 301 redirects to add to your preferred page.
• Merging of two websites is possible in order to ensure that outdated links or old URLs are going to be redirected to the new website or destination URL.
• Moving to you’re the latest version of domain is possible or transition can happen with 301 redirect.
These are just few of the reasons as to why it is much preferable or advantageous to use the 301 redirects, but then, all these still boil down to the idea that Google prefers what is best for the users even if it is not good for the webmasters.
Watch the full video here: