So here is my issue, I have a big web site with lots of pages indexed and we run an aggressive affiliate program in fact it was the affiliate program causing dupe content issues. We can’t redirect the ?afid=123 so we decided to test out the rel canonical.
But, on a quite few pages, we linked to the same page using a affiliate ID:
So I know I have canonical issues between the real URLs and my affiliate ID Url.
- development team have a few issues 301ing the affiliate ID
- we can stop linking to the affiliate ID url’s unless we close the program.
So I opted for the rel=canonical tag and now I have a few months worth of data to look at.
Yahoo is the worst with over 75,000 affiliate ID indexed and ranking and growing !
Bing is just as bad 65,000 affiliate ID indexed and ranking
But Google bless them remove 45,000 indexed and ranking affiliate ID urls and replaced a high % of them with the correct Url. It seemed that the rel=canonical tag was working and working well, but then a side effect kicked in and it was awful we lost some rankings all together then started what seems to be a pattern..
Google keeps finding random affiliate ID urls and adds them to index
We lose of rankings on the targeted keywords on that original page
Google returns both pages when unique content off the master page is searched for.
Google then removes affiliate ID url cache copy but not the listing so you get a uncrawled listing
Google bounces the rankings on the master page around
Google then removes the affiliate ID url all together and rankings stabilise..
it’s been driving me crazy I thought I was the only one till Rob Kerry tweeted me this : Doesn’t work well on Google either. URLs used in inbound links can temp hijack the main URL specified in the canonical tag.
so back to the drawing board !