We first told you about the Canonical Tag back in February as the three major search players announced their joint effort. The industry responded favorably since the tag would give users more control as well as reduce duplicate content. The four major search engines now support the Canonical Link Element.
Now, nearly four months after the announcement, there seems to be a problem. During a session at SMX Advanced, Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts revealed that he had found some examples of the Canonical Tag not being obeyed by Google. He raises the issue that the Canonical Tag is merely a “hint” to Google and cannot be fully relied on.
As a result, Stephan recommends using 301 redirects since they are direct and will be obeyed. Stephan believes that Google misunderstood the explanation of his position since a debate broke out about nofollow and PR sculpting during the session and involved Matt Cutts and Nathan Buggia. Lisa Barone, who liveblogged the debate, recalls that Matt indicated that nofollow was not as effective as it once was. Nathan also stated Bing’s position that PR sculpting using nofollow was not a very valuable tactic for users to implement.
At this point, there has been no clarification of the issue. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Stephan? How do you think this will get resolved?