301 Redirects vs. Rel=Canconical – Answer by Matt Cutts
Well, today was exciting in my seriously geeky terms in that 1.) I learned Matt Cutts (head of Web Spam at Google) is a fellow Tar Heel and that 2.)He answered a question I posited to him by way of the Google Webmaster Help videos several months ago.
Whilst the video does not really reveal anything groundbreaking, it does confirm what many webmasters and SEO’s have thought for a long time: although rel=canonical is a directive that Google generally does follow, 301 redirects are to be preferred whenever/wherever possible.
Matt’s logic is less about what my initial question asked (about churn and loss of strength of a 301 redirect or a rel=canonical) and more to do with the complication of different Content Management Systems and the fact that not all other search engines will necessarily support the rel=canonical directive. Obviously redirects are not always an option, but adding the directive within the header of a page will suffice where you may not have control over the htaccess or server headers.
In terms of PageRank, however, he suggests there is “really not a lot of difference” – thanks very much for answering the question Matt and go Tar Heels!