Search Console: Fix “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” Error in Page Indexing

This article is useful to understand the google search console page indexing issues called “alternate page with proper canonical tag”, and how to fix it or take necessary measures.

What is canonical tag

A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is preferred for a set of duplicate pages on your site. For example, if you have URLs for the same page (https://example.com?color=red and https://example.com?color=red&size=large), Google chooses one as canonical.

We can always ask google to choose the preferred URL with the help of the following canonical tag

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://example.com” />

In this case, Google will most likely index https://example.com and ignore the other two alternatives (https://example.com?color=red and https://example.com?color=red&size=large)

What is an alternate page with a proper canonical tag error?

A screenshot of official google documentation on an alternate page with proper canonical tag

Since Google has indexed the preferred or canonical version of the crawled page, it adds that page under the error ‘Alternate page with proper canonical tag’.

It means you have clearly defined the crawled page as an alternative to its original/canonical one.

Example 2: the Shopify product pages are normally accessible through https://caelestebeauty.com/abc-products/name (direct product link). This URL can also be accessible through collections-based URLs like https://example.com/collections/xyz-collection-name/products/abc-product-name. The Shopify themes normally have product-based URLs mentioned in the canonical tag. In this case, the other category-based URL will be considered as an alternate.

Example 3: Another example can be filter pages or search pages; in which we normally set the canonical tag as https://example.com/products/e-f-g-product-name while there are multiple other variations like
https://example.com/products/e-f-g-product-name?pr_prod_strat=collection_fallback&pr_rec_id=c593e44c2&pr_rec_pid=7095127310384&pr_ref_pid=7088879108144&pr_seq=uniform
or
https://example.com/products/e-f-g-product-name?s=anystring

How to Fix:

I suggest filtering the reported pages and making sure the defined canonical tag URL is indexed.

It is not recommended to index all alternate URLs by defining canonical tags for each variation, it will cause duplicate content.

If that is an amp page then we don’t need to define a canonical amp URL since the amp page has the same content as without the amp version.

We can use internal links to canonical URLs only and no-follow the other alternatives to keep the log clean. This is the futuristic plan but it would help focusing on the preferred URL only. Unless there is a reason for linking to a non-canonical URL.

The canonical helps reduce website duplication which helps in improving site quality overall.

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