Wondering what the Alternate Page With Proper Canonical Tag GSC status means?
In this post, I will give you a quick rundown of what this message is all about and what you should and shouldn’t do about it.
But before we get to that, quickly go over the URLs that show up with this error and see if these are pages you want to be indexed.
If they are not, just ignore them! You don’t need to read this post or do anything to fix it.
However, if you are seeing a ton of these, you might want to investigate as they can mess with your crawl budget.
What Does This Status Mean?
Alternate Page With Proper Canonical Tag is a page indexing status in Google Search Console. It means there are duplicate versions of a page in your site, but they are properly canonicalized.
Properly canonicalized = Have correct canonical tags.
Basically, a canonical tag is an HTML element added to a page to tell the search engines which is the preferred version that should be indexed.
This is pretty similar to the Duplicate without user-selected canonical GSC error.
So, Google has only indexed the original canonicalized version of the page and ignored/hasn’t indexed this page.
How To Fix Alternate Page With Proper Canonical Tag Error
Again, getting an “Alternate Page With Proper Canonical Tag” warning doesn’t necessarily always mean that there’s a problem you should fix, but some circumstances may require you to take action.
For example, here are our URLs with the error:
We definitely don’t want any of these indexed.
If there are pages you want to be indexed there, or there are a ton of these pages (pretty common in ecom stores) you need to take action.
⚡Also Read: Sitemap Could Not Be Read
Step 1 Check And Fix Canonical Tags
Follow the steps below to check and edit canonical tags:
- From the list of URLs, click on a URL and a tab will show up on the right.
- Click on inspect URL. This will bring up the crawl and indexing stats.
- Next, check if the canonical tag is correct. If the canonical tag points to a different URL, see whether that URL is the one you need to be indexed.
If it is, there is no problem, you don’t have to do anything.
- If the canonical tag points to a duplicate version that you don’t want indexed, edit the canonical tag and put a self-referential canonical tag.
Edit the indexed page and put a canonical tag to this page as well. You can do so through your SEO plugin like rankmath.
- If both pages have unique content and need to be indexed, you can put a self-referential canonical tag, so that it will no longer be considered duplicate and will be indexed.
If you update or remove canonical tags, update your sitemap so that it shows the changes you have made.
Then submit the updated sitemap to the Google search console to make sure Google is informed about the changes.
Step 2 Check Internal Links
What if all the canonical tags are alright? Then it’s probably caused by rouge UTM tags on internal links in content, footer, and navigation.
Double-check these and fix them, these can also dilute link equity to internal pages.
This can also be caused by amp pages or a boatload of page variants (especially in ecom sites)
Step 3 Avoid Crawl Budget Issues
Google has a crawl limit per day for every site. If there are thousands of these types of error pages on your site, your budget is being wasted by crawling these pages.
And the crawler might miss your important pages.
⚡Also Read: Google Sites SEO
So, you need to block Google bot from crawling these. You can do it from the robots.txt file.
PS. You don’t need to worry about this if your site doesn’t have 10K+ pages.
The “Alternate Page With Proper Canonical Tag” is a GSC indexing error that means there’s a duplicate page just like this and it is considered the preferred version for indexing.
If you don’t want this page indexed at all, there is no need for you to do anything.
But if you need it indexed, you need to update the canonical tag with a self-referential canonical tag. And make sure there is no duplicate content.
If it’s the indexed page that you don’t want to be indexed, point a canonical tag from that page to this and add a self-referential canonical on this page.