Can I combine a Canonical URL and Noindex tag?
The answer: it depends. Specifically, it depends on how your canonicals are set up.
The reason for this confusion?
People don’t make the distinction between:
- canonicals pointing to other pages, and
- self-referencing canonicals
Let’s clear up this confusion with two crystal clear examples.
Robots noindex and canonical to other page
https://www.example.com/page-a/ has the following meta robots and canonical URL set:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"/> <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/page-b/" />
In this example, it’s been said that the
robots noindex may be carried over to the page that you canonicalize to, in this case
https://www.example.com/page-b/. And that’s an issue, because that's the page you wanted to assign page A's signals to!
You want to avoid having a canonical to another page, and a robots noindex present as they are very conflicting signals.
Not to worry, ContentKing monitors websites for issues like these 24/7:
Robots noindex and self-referencing canonical
https://www.example.com/ppc-landingpage/ has the following meta robots and canonical URL set:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"/> <link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/ppc-landingpage/" />
In this example, it’s not harmful to have a page that contains both a self-referencing canonical URL and a robots noindex directive.
While some people speculate that this causes issues, we’ve yet to come across a situation where it does.
Google’s John Mueller confirms:
The self-referencing canonical tells search engines that this is the only version of the page that exists. And the robots noindex tells search engines not to index it.
Do we advise to implement both a self-referencing canonical URL and a robots noindex on pages that you don’t want to have indexed?
No. It doesn’t matter to Google, just do whatever is easiest in your situation.
Is it harmful if you already have this on your site?
No, it’s not harmful to have both a self-referencing canonical and a robots noindex on your site.
And do you need to make any changes to your pages?
No, there’s no need to change this as it doesn’t matter. Spend your valuable resources on changes that DO make an impact.