Technical SEO

NoIndex vs Canonical – Which is More Advantageous and Why


Terms like NoIndex, NoFollow, Canonical, and Disallow are pretty common when it comes to search engine optimization. But at times, it becomes difficult to decide which tag, attribute and command to use and why?

We are here going to compare NoIndex and Canonical as there is a lot of confusion regarding them. Which to use, what is preferred by Google while ranking, which supersedes which, whether to use them alone or combined and what to use when are few questions that are often raised by the SEOs.

NoIndex vs Canonical


A noindex tag is used to tell search engines that the said page should not be indexed in search results.

It is often combined with a nofollow tag, but it can also be used separately.

If you want your page to appear in search results but do not wish for that page to be considered for ranking then noindex is the tag to use.

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

If you wish search engines to not follow links on your page, add nofollow to the command.

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>

The advantage of using noindex alone is that the rank of your Page will continue to flow through pages that are linked to the said page.

Canonical tag

When you have several pages with similar or duplicated content, canonical tag can be used to identify the primary page.

For example, if you have more than one version of the same page, say a mobile version and a desktop version, Google will treat them as duplicate versions of the same.

The canonical tag point to the primary page so that search engines can crawl the right URL and not other pages.

<link rel=”canonical” href=””/&gt;>

The above syntax is to be inserted in the header of every duplicated page.

If you do not add a canonical tag, Google itself will consider one of the versions as the canonical version and crawl that, all other versions will be considered as the duplicated version which often less crawled.

NoIndex vs Canonical

It is advised not to use both the signals on the same page as they contradict each other and search engines will end up picking one over the other.

Usually, in such cases, where both the commands are used on the same page, Google picks the canonical tag over noindex.

According to John Mueller from Google, using noindex alone is not a clear sign for canonicalization.

Replying to user’s query on reddit, he mentioned that using canonical tag let Google know which URL to prefer and they try to combine other URLs into a usually stronger URL instead of separate ones.

He also mentioned that using noindex (alone) on a page doesn’t signify that the site owners want to have that page combined with something else or that signals should be redirected to any other page.

A canonical tag is a clear way to tell the search engine which page to prioritize. The other ways to clearly communicate to Google about which page to prefer are:

  • Redirects
  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Sitemaps
  • hreflang


In terms of Google crawling canonical tag is more useful that noindex. But if you wish to completely remove all traces of a URL from Google, noindex provides a good way to do that. Both way, it depends on your requirements and your site structure as to what will be the most suitable and beneficial for you.

Just remember, not to use both on the same page.

About The Author: 

Ruby is a digital marketing expert at DigitalMarketingcrab – A Best Digital Marketing Company in Jaipur. She is Co-Founder of SEOtrainingClasses provide SEO training in Jaipur. She love to write technical content in SEO field.

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