How and why you should monitor the canonical tag status in search console

Two identical pages next to each other. One of them marked with a gold medal and the "Alternate page with proper canonical tag' status.

The most important thing to remember is that your website is constantly changing. You add new pages or update existing content so search engines can change how they evaluate your website.

Regular tracking of the affected URLs is the key to ensure they contribute to your website’s effective crawling and indexing.

There are a few main causes for the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” status that you can easily catch by regular monitoring and it’s very easy to fix them

And remember, even if you see the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” as a result of your conscious decision, don’t forget to keep an eye on it.


Monitoring done right

1. Check if your alternate pages aren’t wasting your crawl budget

If you manage a large domain, like an eCommerce website, you may have many alternate URLs, e.g., based on your filtering parameters.

However, even if you canonicalize them properly, it may happen that Google still considers them crucial to be extensively crawled. It may be the case when you link to these non-canonical pages by mistake, e.g., when doing a navigation redesign on your website.

Then, it may turn out that bots spend too much time crawling your alternative pages instead of focusing on the canonical ones.

If they do, consider whether all non-canonical URLs should be crawlable to prevent wasting your crawl budget.

You can check how often Google crawls your URLs by looking at the last crawl date in the URL Inspection tool or performing a crawl analysis using an SEO crawler like Screaming Frog.

But watch out: don’t block the crawling of your alternate pages in robots.txt by default. Remember that Google needs to visit your pages in the first place to see the canonical tag. 

Also, pay attention to your internal linking:

  • Ensure you link internally only to indexable pages that you consider canonical, and
  • Remove the internal links to your alternate pages that are crawled more than necessary.


2. Make sure you have control over your canonical pages

Proper canonicalization of your pages is a crucial step to efficient indexing.

But even if you properly used the canonical tag, Google may disagree with your perspective and consider a different URL more critical. It will result in the “Duplicate, Google chose different canonical than user” status message in Google Search Console. Read my colleague’s article to learn how to address this issue on your website.

Saying goodbye to the problem

Read more about how can you easily fix the “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” issue in no time.


NEXT STEPS: Contact us to receive a personalized plan to deal with your duplicate content and indexing issues.

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Wrapping up

If you’re managing a large website, you won’t avoid having duplicate pages.

The “Alternate page with proper canonical tag” status indicates that you optimize your duplicate content in the right way.

However, you should always double-check if your actions align with your crawling and indexing strategy.

Go for technical SEO services to receive a thorough audit of your website and spot any problems that may contribute to crawl budget issues and harm your search visibility.