Google has recently updated its guidance on the use of cross-domain canonicals for syndicated content. A canonical link element is a way to indicate that a webpage should not be considered the original source of the content and to point to the page that Google should consider as the original.
When a duplicate page appears on an entirely different website (domain), it is called a cross-domain canonical. Google updated its guidance about crawling and indexing on May 2, 2022, which removed the recommendation to use cross-domain canonicals.
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Changes in Google’s Crawling and Indexing Guidance
Two major changes have been made in the guidance for the use of cross-domain canonicals for syndicated content. Firstly, Google updated its crawling and indexing guidance to remove a recommendation to use a cross-domain canonical. Secondly, new guidance was added to Google’s page on fixing canonical issues, which recommends against using a cross-domain canonical for syndicated content.
With the removal of the recommendation to use cross-domain canonicals and the addition of guidance against their use for syndicated content, partners should block indexing of your content to avoid duplication. This can be done by using the noindex meta robots tag directive on third-party news sites where the content is being republished.
Handling Syndicated News Content
Despite these changes, the guidance for syndicated news content remains the same. Google still recommends that news publishers who syndicate their news content continue using cross-domain canonicals as prescribed in their existing guidance.
There are two ways to handle syndicated news content. First, news content syndicated within one’s own site or network can use the rel=”canonical” tag. Second, news content syndicated to third-party sites should have their syndication partners use the “noindex” meta robots tag directive to prevent Googlebot-News from crawling and indexing the syndicated content.
Google has published additional guidance in December 2009 in the form of a Q&A. If the content is similar enough, it might make sense to use rel=”canonical”, if both parties agree.
Read Google’s new guidance on canonicalizing syndicated content and follow their recommendations to avoid duplication. For more information on SEO services, visit SEO Augusta.