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Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag Status in Google Search Console

Do you see the “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” status in your Google Search Console? You can commonly see this message when you have multiple versions of a page on your website.

Alternate page with proper canonical tag status

In this knowledgebase article, we’ll explain what this message means and give you some tips on how to fix this if required.

What Does “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” Mean?

The “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” status message in Google Search Console means that there are two versions of a page on your website having the same canonical URL. Google will simply exclude the duplicate version and index the main version of the page.

This ideally means Google recognizes these canonicalized URLs correctly and there is nothing you need to do on your part.

But that said, you should still take a look at them from time and time and validate if these pages are meant to be canonicalized. Else, you might lose the potential traffic from the valuable pages that could have been indexed.

What is a Canonical Tag?

A canonical tag tells search engines which version of a webpage is the “master” or “canonical” version, and should be indexed. It helps you specify which version of a URL you would like to appear in search results. This is useful because, in some cases, where you may have content that is accessible via multiple URLs or different websites entirely, you can use canonical URLs to avoid duplicated content from negatively affecting rankings.

For example, let’s say you have two pages on your website that are very similar:

  • rankmath.com/page1
  • rankmath.com/page2

Both pages have similar content, but you want search engines to index only the canonical version of the page (in this case, rankmath.com/page1).

To do this, you would add a canonical tag to the HTML code of rankmath.com/page2 as well as to the HTML code of rankmath.com/page1, like this:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://rankmath.com/page1">

This tells search engines that rankmath.com/page1 is the canonical version of the page, and should be indexed.

How to Fix the “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” Status Message

To check if all the pages are correctly canonicalized the first step is to identify all of the pages on your website that are marked by this status message. To do this, go to the “Coverage” section of Google Search Console and click on the “Excluded” tab.

Coverage Exclude

Then, click on the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” status.

Alternate page with proper canonical tag

This will show you a list of all the pages on your website that are labeled with this status.

list of the affected pages

Once you have a list of the affected pages, in Google Search Console or in the Index Status tab of Rank Math, you need to check if they include the correct canonical URL. If not, you would need to change them using Rank Math.

Index Status - Alternate page with proper canonical tag

The best thing is that Rank Math SEO WordPress plugin makes it easy to change the canonical URL using the meta box (as pictured below).

By default, Rank Math makes use of the current post/page URL as the canonical URL so you would only need to alter this setting if you wish to change it to something else. This is also known as a self-referencing canonical.

rank-math-meta-box

Note: If you’re unable to find the Advanced tab, please enable the advanced mode from WordPress Dashboard > Rank Math > Dashboard.

advanced-mode-1-scaled

Under the Advanced tab, you can change the Canonical URL field to point to the main source of your content. The Canonical URL informs the search crawlers of the main page if you have pages or posts with similar content.

The below screenshot is for reference only.

canonical-url

Once you’re done setting your Canonical URL – simply update the page as you normally would after making a change or click Publish if this is a newly created page.

We hope this article helped you learn what the “Alternate Page with Proper Canonical Tag” status message in Google Search Console means and how to fix it. If you still have absolutely any questions, please feel free to reach our support team directly from here, and we’re always here to help.

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