There has been a lot of debate on the use of canonical vs. 301 redirect. Some SEO company services say use the canonical tag over a 301 in situations while another professional SEO services company may say use 301 over the canonical tag. This is confusing. You can relieve the confusion by knowing why they are used and when it is appropriate to use each.
When and How to Use the 301 Redirect
The 301 redirect is used when content has been moved to a new permanent URL. Search engines and users are then redirected to that new URL. Users hardly ever notice that the URL directs to a new one unless they are looking at the address bar of their browser. Even if they do see the change, the content is still what they were looking for, so it doesn’t affect them. Search engines, on the other hand, can follow the 301 redirect to the new URL and index the new URL. When they index the new one, they de-index the old one. De-indexing can take a few weeks.
As for links, any link juice that exists on the old URL should pass to the new URL via the 301 redirect, but Google doesn’t guarantee this. This means it’s possible that 100% of the juice the link gives to the page may not follow it.
It is important for the top SEO services to make sure the 301 redirect and the 302 redirect aren’t confused. A 302 is a temporary redirect. Anchor text and link juice will not usually pass to the URL in a temporary redirect.
A 301 should be used when moving a website, when content has expired and you need to direct to more updated content, and when there are multiple versions of the homepage and you need visitors to go to the correct URL.
When and How to Use the Rel=Canonical Tag
The canonical tag is somewhat new in the world of SEO. You can use the canonical tag when a 301 may not be possible. Using a rel=canonical tag is as simple as placing it in the <head> tag of a page.
Top rated SEO companies should also consider that there are times categories can be included in a URL. Because of this, the same set of results could be returned, so it would appear as if the site contained a duplicate page. A 301 wouldn’t work here, but rel=canonical would.
A professional SEO services company shouldn’t use the canonical tag on a new website, on pagination pages, or across the site pointing to a single page. Using it in any of these ways could kill the website. The most expensive or most affordable SEO company should know this.