When you are using Google Search Console it frequently shows the message “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” to identify and fix problems with your website’s crawling, indexing, and ranking.
Google found duplicate pages with valid canonical tags and won’t regard these pages as having duplicate content. If canonical tags are intentionally used, there is no cause for concern. This report may occasionally assist in identifying SEO-related issues.
What is A Canonical Tag?
A canonical tag, also known as a “rel=canonical” tag, is an HTML element used to identify the preferable version of a web page when there are numerous versions of similar or identical material. The canonical tag allows website owners to manage the issue of duplicate content while also providing search engines with information about the principal or authoritative version of a specific page.
The canonical may also employ the URL of the current page, a practice known as self-referencing canonical.
Let’s take an example where you have two extremely identical pages on your website:
Both pages have comparable material, but you want search engines to index only the canonical version of the page (in this example, abcz.com/page1).
To do this, add a canonical tag to the HTML code of abcz.com/page2 as well as abcz.com/page1, as seen below:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://abcz.com/page1″>
This informs search engines that abcz.com/page1 is the page’s canonical version and should be indexed.
Do You Need to Fix the Alternate Page with the Proper Canonical Tag Warning?
You may choose not to take any action, as Google uses the “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” message to convey when it has properly canonicalized a page.
These pages will remain successfully crawled, indexed, and ranked by Google. This notice occurs for thousands of websites on the internet, all of which have excellent search engine rankings.
However, It’s important to note that you can discover pages in this portion of your Google Search Console report that you really want indexed. Also, this page won’t be indexed by Google if it discovers an altered page, whether it contains the correct canonical tag or not.
Moreover, if you manage a large website and observe numerous pages encountering this issue, it might suggest that budget concerns are present and your internal link structure requires attention.
Therefore, even while there may not be a need to “fix” this problem, it is undoubtedly something that needs more research.
How to Determine Which URLs are Impacted by the “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” Report.
To view the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” report, go here:
1. Go to Google Search Console.
2. Select the property you wish to examine.
3. In the “Indexing” area, select the “Pages” report.
4. Navigate to the “Why pages are not indexed” section and select the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” report.
How Do We Fix the “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” Status?
1. Check to See if these Pages are Properly Canonicalized
Verify if pages are listed under Coverage > Alternate page with a valid canonical tag and assess whether these pages warrant canonicalization. If any pages are identified as inappropriate for canonicalization, modify the canonical link to redirect to the respective page. Proceed to the next step after making these changes.
2. Check to See if Your Internal Link Structure Needs Improvement
Examine the URL patterns of these pages to see if they are appropriately canonicalized. You’ll most likely come across AMP pages, page variations, and URLs containing UTM tags. In general, this is OK. However, there are several instances where they may pose problems.
a. Page Variant Overload
Sites with a large number of page versions are difficult to manage. For example, if you run an eCommerce site and produce URLs for shoes in a variety of colors and sizes, you may quickly wind up with 25 URLs per product.
In practice, only a small percentage of your URLs will likely obtain organic traffic. Determine whether this is the case for you and whether you need to make (some) of these page versions unavailable to search engines, for as by using a # in the URL.
b. Rogue UTM Tags
Yet, things may have gone wrong if team members had included UTM tags to internal links in the main menu, sidebar, footer, or body text. This is a no-no since it dilutes the transfer of page authority and messes up your Google Analytics statistics.
Allow ContentKing to explore your site to provide you with a complete picture of all the URLs on your site and how they are accessible. Filtering through your URLs is considerably easier and faster in ContentKing than in Google Search Console. Furthermore, Google Search Console samples your data, but ContentKing provides the complete view.
3. Look for Crawl Budget Issues
You determine how you connect to your own information, but you cannot control other people’s links to you. Take note of any URLs you are unfamiliar with when perusing the list of sites that have the Alternate page with the correct canonical tag status.
If you have a site with a few thousand pages but hundreds of thousands of pages with this status, you should use your robots.txt file to prohibit search engines from scanning these URLs. This saves you money on your crawl budget. If you have a site with 10,000 pages or more, we recommend that you think about crawl budget difficulties.
The “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” status typically indicates that you have properly optimized your duplicate content.
However, canonicalization in SEO is a complicated issue, and you should constantly double-check the implementation. Using Google Search Console to solve the issue of alternative sites and install correct canonical tags is essential for keeping a healthy and well-optimized website.
By following the steps provided in this tutorial, you can ensure that search engines accurately understand the relationship between multiple versions of your content, resulting in increased exposure and ranking in search results for your site.