How to fix “Alternate page with proper canonical tag”
“Alternate page with proper canonical tag” is the status of Google Search Console. Indicates that the page is marked with the canonical tag pointing to another URL. The affected page is not indexed.
As long as this status message is the result of your intentional actions, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if you are not sure how to deal with it, let me guide you through the possible causes and solutions.
Reasons for the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” status
If you see “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” in the page indexing (index coverage) report in Google Search Console, it probably means that you have met the following conditions:
- You have duplicate or poor content that you want to improve,
- So you choose the best version of the content you want to display in the search results
- You mark your duplicate with a canonical tag pointing to the canonical URL.
Since you have chosen another page as the canonical URL, you need to know that search engines will index it for your alternate page. When this is done on purpose, this is a positive sign of a successful indexing strategy.
This does not mean that you are preventing robots from indexing your duplicate page, but it does assure search engines which page they prefer.
Which pages would you consider duplicates and would you like to make them canonical? These are, for example, URLs that contain filter parameters or user-generated content.
Check out real-world examples of managing duplicate content with canonical tags in My Twitter thread.
How to fix “Alternate page with proper canonical tag”
Or not, Make sure you intentionally caused the “alt page with appropriate canonical tag” state.
I recommend going through the full list of affected URLs in the Page Indexing (Index Coverage) report to confirm it.
When you get to the status page, you can filter your URLs in the top right corner of All Known Pages to submit (or not submit) in your sitemap. However, considering that you’re only adding canonical URLs to your XML sitemap file, you won’t find any affected pages when you filter the All Pages Provided list.
Based on your investigation, decide how to deal with all affected pages. You may encounter two possible situations:
When you don’t want your alternate page to be indexed
In general, “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” says:
- Google respects your canonical tag, and
- It has indexed another web page that it considers to be the preferred version.
If you intentionally use the canonical tag, And if your alternate pages aren’t contributing to more problems, You won’t have to change anything.
But it may also happen that you may want to change the base page you are referring to.
To troubleshoot, use URL Inspection Tool Finds the current base version of your page.
If you correctly indicate the canonical page, you will see its URL in the canonical user-authorized section at the bottom of the report.
Depending on how you implement canonical tags on your website, Update the canonical version of the URL.
When you want your alternate page to be indexed
If you want to index the URL “alt page with appropriate canonical tag”, you need to remove the canonical tag that points to another page.
However, in this case, you need to remember two caveats:
- Ensure that your page provides unique value to your users, So that Google does not consider it a duplicate, and
- Add a self-referencing canonical tag Google understands that this page is essential and wants to index it.
But remember – if you just remove the canonical tag from a particular page without changing its content, it will cause duplicate content issues. In this case, after Google crawls your page again, it will likely mark that page as ‘duplicate without user-selected canonical page’ in Google Search Console.
Why you should monitor the status of “Alternate page with proper canonical tag”
Don’t forget that your website is constantly changing. You can add new pages or update existing content so search engines can change how they evaluate your website.
Even if you see an “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” due to your conscious decision, track the affected URLs regularly to ensure that they contribute to the effective crawling and indexing of your website.
Check if your alternate pages aren’t wasting your crawl budget
If you operate a large domain, such as an e-commerce website, you may have many alternative URLs, for example, depending on your filter parameters.
However, even if you render it correctly, it may happen that Google still considers it necessary to be widely crawled. This may be the case when you mistakenly link to these unrecognized pages, for example, when you perform a navigation redesign on your website.
After that, it may turn out that the bots spend more time crawling your alternate pages than focusing on the primary pages.
if that’s how it is, Consider whether all non-canonical URLs should be crawled to prevent waste Crawl budget.
You can check how often Google crawls your URLs by looking at the last crawl history in the URL Inspection tool or performing a crawl analysis with an SEO crawler such as Screaming Frog.
But beware: your alternate pages are not blocked in robots.txt by default. Remember that Google needs to visit your pages in the first place to see the canonical tag.
also, heed your internal links:
- Ensure that you only link internally to indexable pages that you consider canonical, and
- Remove internal links to your over-crawled alternative pages.
Make sure you are in control of your primary pages
Determining the correct URL for your pages is a critical step for effective indexing.
But even if you use the canonical tag correctly, Google may disagree with your view and consider a different URL more important. This will result in the status message “Duplicate, Google chose a different canonical page than the user message” in Google Search Console.
If you run a large website, you can’t avoid having duplicate pages.
The “Alternative page with appropriate canonical tag” status indicates that you are optimizing duplicate content in the right way.
However, you should always double check whether your actions are consistent with your crawling and indexing strategy.
Turn to technical SEO services to receive a comprehensive review of your website and discover any issues that may be contributing to crawling budget issues and detrimental to search visibility.