Using Canonical on Affiliate GMB Landing Pages?

consultant

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Sep 29, 2015
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105
There's a business that allows Subcontractor Affiliates to signup. Most of them don't have a website. They want to operate under their own business name but leverage the brand recognition and Domain Authority of the parent website. The challenge is there can be more than one affiliate in a given city. Their service area, and services they perform are identical to each other. Most want the "Parent Company" to handle scheduling so they just have their local number forwarded to the parent company. The parent company picks the affiliate to assign to the job based on availability.

If the only thing unique to their their GMB landing page on the Parent Company's website would be the heading with their business name ("Joes Service - An Affiliate of Parent Company" and the phone number (and their GMB physical address), and all the other content is identical to the other affiliates in that city, if the Parent Company has a "Master Landing Page" for their own GMB listing for that city, would it be viable to just duplicate the content for each affiliate (on the parent company's website), change the business name and phone number and add the canonical tag pointing back to the "Master Copy" of the city landing page? Basically, the Parent Company doesn't want multiple landing pages for the same city to come up in the search results when the content is all 98% the same for each Subcontract Affiliate in that city. (Although I'm sure some Black Hat SEO's would love this.)

The reason for having separate GMB listings for each affiliate is mainly due to the fact the subcontractors want the ability to take the calls directly when they so choose via turning forwarding on/off for the published phone number in their GMB listing. Ultimately the Subcontractor Affiliate would replace the landing page with maybe their own unique 'microsite' on the parent company's website but the resources just aren't there yet for all parties involved to initially do that. And frankly it's just really a bunch of content spinning since the services and service area are all identical.

I guess this strategy breaks down if Google uses the existence of a canonical tag to flag the Affiliate's GMB listing as a duplicate of the parent companys but that does not appear to currently be the case and I'm not sure that would ever happen as it seems to me totally within Google's guidelines and reasonable to implement this type of strategy.
 

consultant

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Sep 29, 2015
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It's a theoretical question. The landing pages and GMB listings haven't been created yet. Maybe the real question is, can a GMB listing get ranked using a landing page that is canonical or noindex? Since listings with no website specified at all rank, maybe the answer is yes. Assuming that's the case, we then come back to the question as to if there is a negative effect on Local Finder ranking if you use landing pages that you are instructing to Google (via canonical) are identical to more than one GMB listing?

Maybe no one knows because no one has tried this so we all would just be guessing at this point.
 
Last edited:

Yan Gilbert

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Oct 15, 2016
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Addressing the question...

"can a GMB listing get ranked using a landing page that is canonical or noindex? "

Not sure how it would affect the rankings, but I think it would accept a canonical link in the website field without issue.

If it is noindexed though, the algo might go looking for a better page to link to since it might just see that entry as blank.

..but just guessing. Would need to test.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Sep 12, 2012
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I'm sure it would accept the URL. However, if it's canonical or no index I imagine the ranking won't be too good. Canonical might make it if Google sees it as a 301.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Oct 3, 2012
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Canonical acts as a soft directive for a 301 redirect. I say "soft" because it's not always acknowledged, but for the most part Google does a good job of abiding by what the canonical says.

Do not use a noindex tag on those pages. I feel pretty good about predicting they won't rank if you do that. You basically stop the crawl path at the landing page, which means Google hits that affiliate LP... stops.... then leaves then may not visit again. Since you just told it not to index the page, it won't be back after identifying it as such. Like @Yan Gilbert said, Google may just find something else to use.

On to the ranking question, I'd say test out the canonical idea. It all depends what that "master page" is all about. If these contractors are spread out all over the place, then it's like placing the homepage on all of them. For franchise businesses with many locations, it typically doesn't work as well to send everyone to a homepage. If that master page is really strong and ranking well on its own now, then it might have a shot to rank.

I haven't come across this exact scenario, but seems like the canonical is worth testing. Try it with a small sample size first to see what happens, then expand.
 
Last edited:

JoshuaMackens

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Do not use a noindex tag on those pages. I feel pretty good about predicting they won't rank if you do that. You basically stop the crawl path at the landing page, which means Google hits that affiliate LP... stops.... then leaves. Since you just told it not to index the page, it won't be back after identifying it as such. Like @Yan Gilbert said, Google may just find something else to use.
I believe the noindex tag won't stop Google, it just tells them not to index. If you nofollow the page as well, that should stop Google (theoretically). That is my understanding. Is that yours as well Eric or do you believe they stop on the page after seeing noindex?

At any rate, Eric is right, don't use noindex.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Oct 3, 2012
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Sorry, I wasn't clear in that post. It doesn't stop them initially but may tell them to not visit again in the future unless you force a crawl. Bots should keep coming back to the canonical page to check up on it.
 

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