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How to Fix ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Status in Google Search Console

How to Fix ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Status in Google Search Console

Have you noticed a ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status in your Google Search Console? This issue can negatively impact your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and rankings. But don’t worry, in this article, we’ll guide you through understanding this status, identifying the causes, and most importantly, providing effective solutions to fix it. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Status

Before we dive deeper into the intricacies of the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status, it’s essential to grasp the concept of canonical URLs. A canonical URL serves as a directive to search engines, indicating the preferred version of a webpage that should be indexed and displayed in search results. This element is pivotal in consolidating duplicate content and streamlining ranking signals across your website.

When encountering the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status within your Google Search Console, it signifies the presence of duplicate URLs on your website that lack a specified canonical URL. This oversight can potentially perplex search engines, leading to detrimental effects on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

What is a Canonical URL?

At its core, a canonical URL represents an HTML link element designed to communicate to search engines the preferred version of a webpage. By employing canonical URLs, website owners can effectively manage duplicate content issues and assist search engines in determining the most relevant version to index and display in search results.

Why is the Canonical Status Important for SEO?

The significance of maintaining a proper canonical status cannot be overstated in SEO. Establishing clear canonical URLs aids search engines in comprehending the primary content source, thereby averting indexing and ranking complications arising from duplicate content.

By explicitly defining canonical URLs, you not only consolidate ranking signals but also mitigate the risk of internal competition among your webpages in search engine results pages (SERPs). This strategic approach not only enhances the overall visibility of your website but also elevates the user experience by guiding visitors to the most pertinent and authoritative rendition of your content.

Common Causes of ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Status

Now that we understand the importance of the canonical status, let’s explore the common causes of the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status in Google Search Console.

Misconfigured URL Parameters

In some cases, misconfigured URL parameters can generate duplicate URLs. This happens when the same content appears under different URLs due to variations in parameter values. Search engines might treat these variations as separate pages, leading to duplicate content issues.

For example, let’s say you have an e-commerce website that allows users to filter products by color. If the URL parameters for the color filter are not properly configured, search engines may index each color variation as a separate URL, even though the content remains the same. This can dilute your website’s visibility in search results and confuse search engines about the preferred version of the content.

To address this, it’s essential to properly configure URL parameters in Google Search Console and use the “URL Parameters” tool to instruct search engines on how to handle them. By specifying which parameters should be ignored or treated as separate URLs, you can effectively eliminate duplicate content issues caused by misconfigured URL parameters.

Incorrectly Set Up Redirects

Redirects are an integral part of maintaining a smooth user experience and consolidating duplicate content. However, if redirects are not correctly implemented, they can generate additional duplicate URLs.

Imagine you have recently migrated your website from HTTP to HTTPS for improved security. While implementing redirects from the old HTTP URLs to the new HTTPS URLs, it’s crucial to ensure that the destination URL includes the appropriate canonical tag or header, specifying the preferred version of the content.

If the redirects are not properly set up, search engines may continue to index both the old HTTP URLs and the new HTTPS URLs, resulting in duplicate content issues. By including the canonical tag or header in the redirect, you can guide search engines to treat the new HTTPS URLs as the preferred version, consolidating the duplicate content into a single URL.

Duplicate Content Across Multiple URLs

If your website has multiple URLs hosting the same content, search engines may flag them as duplicates. This can occur when identical content is accessible under both HTTP and HTTPS protocols, with or without the trailing slash, or with parameters that are not properly specified.

For instance, let’s say your website allows users to access the same content using both “www.example.com” and “example.com” URLs. Search engines may consider these as separate pages, leading to duplicate content issues.

To address this, it’s crucial to identify and consolidate these duplicate URLs by implementing canonical tags or redirecting them to a single preferred URL. By specifying the preferred version of the content and ensuring that all URLs point to it, you can eliminate the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status and improve the overall SEO performance of your website.

Steps to Identify the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Issue

If you suspect that your website has ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ issues, follow these steps to identify the problem areas and gain insights into the duplicate content on your website.

Using Google Search Console for Diagnosis

Google Search Console provides valuable information about your website’s performance in search results. Use it to identify duplicate content issues and URLs without a specified canonical tag.

Access the ‘Pages’ > ‘Why pages aren’t indexed’ and find the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ section to assess the presence of duplicate content and potential issues with canonical tags.

Identifying Duplicate Content on Your Website

In addition to Google Search Console, consider using SEO auditing tools to identify duplicate content across your website. These tools can crawl your site and highlight pages with similar content.

Once you have a list of duplicate pages, review and analyze them to determine if they require a canonical redirect to the preferred version.

Solutions to Fix the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Status

Now that you understand the causes and have identified the duplicate content issues, it’s time to implement effective solutions to fix the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status.

Setting Up the Correct Canonical URL

To fix this issue, ensure that each webpage specifies its preferred canonical URL. This can be done by adding the rel=”canonical” link element to the HTML header of each individual page. Specify the canonical URL as the preferred version of the content being crawled and indexed.

For example: <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/preferred-page/”>

Implementing 301 Redirects

If you have multiple URLs hosting the same content, implement 301 redirects to redirect visitors and search engine crawlers to the preferred URL. This consolidates duplicate content and ensures that search engines index the correct version of the webpage.

For example, if you have duplicate content on “https://www.example.com/page/” and “https://www.example.com/page.html,” redirect one version to the other to maintain a single preferred URL.

Preventing Future ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ Issues

Fixing the current ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status is essential, but preventing future occurrences is equally important. Here are some best practices to follow:

Regular Website Audits

Perform regular audits of your website to identify and address issues promptly. Use SEO auditing tools to scan for duplicate content, generate XML sitemaps, and monitor your website for any unexpected changes.

Effective Content Management Strategies

Implement an efficient content management strategy to ensure that new content is created thoughtfully and that any updates or changes are properly tracked and maintained. This helps prevent inadvertent duplications and ensures that new pages have the necessary canonical tags in place.

Understanding and Implementing SEO Best Practices

Stay updated with the latest SEO best practices to ensure that your website adheres to recommended guidelines. This includes following structured data standards, using proper URL structures, and maintaining consistency with canonical tags.

By following these steps and consistently monitoring your website’s SEO health, you can fix the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status, improve your website’s search engine rankings, and enhance user experience. Remember, a well-optimized website attracts more organic traffic and leads to increased visibility and success online.

Take action now to resolve the ‘Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical’ status and set your website on the path to success in the competitive online landscape!

Author

Larry Norris

With over 5 years of experience in agency work as an SEO Manager, I am proud to have assisted many clients in achieving higher search engine rankings and a stronger online presence. My successful track record includes top 3 rankings in SERPS, the attainment of featured snippets, and increased website domain authority.