Fix canonicalization issues

Use the URL Inspection tool to check which page Google considers canonical. Even if you explicitly designate a canonical page, Google might choose a different canonical for various reasons, such as the quality of the content. Before troubleshooting, think about whether the Google-selected canonical makes more sense than your preferred canonical URL for your users coming from Google Search.

There are various reasons why the selected canonical URL differs from the canonical URL you'd prefer to see in Search. The most common issues are:

Common canonicalization issues

Language variants without localized annotations

If you have multiple websites that serve substantially the same content localized to different users around the world, be sure to follow our guidelines for localized sites. For example, if you have different sites for your English-speaking users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia respectively, but the content is the same, adding hreflang annotations to your pages can help the right pages surface for users in different regions.

Incorrect canonical elements

Some content management systems (CMS) or CMS plugins can make incorrect use of canonicalization techniques to point to undesired URLs. Check your HTML with your browser's developer tools to see if so. If your site is indicating an unexpected canonical URL preference, perhaps through incorrect use of rel="canonical" or a 3xx redirect, contact your CMS provider and report this error to them.

Misconfigured servers

Some hosting misconfigurations may cause unexpected cross-domain URL selection. For example:
  • A server may be misconfigured to return content from in response to a request for a URL on other.example
  • Two unrelated web servers may return identical soft 404 pages that Google fails to identify as error pages. If you notice this is the case, get in touch with your hosting provider.

Malicious hacking

Some attacks on websites introduce code that returns an HTTP 3xx redirect or inserts a cross-domain rel="canonical" link annotation into the HTML <head> or HTTP header, usually pointing to a URL hosting malicious or spammy content. In these cases, our algorithms may choose the malicious or spammy URL instead of the URL on the compromised website.

Syndicated content

The canonical link element is not recommended for those who want to avoid duplication by syndication partners, because the pages are often very different. The most effective solution is for partners to block indexing of your content. For more, see Avoid article duplication in Google News, which also has advice about blocking syndicated content from Google Search.

A copycat website

In rare situations, our algorithm may select a URL from an external site that is hosting your content without your permission. If you believe that another site is duplicating your content in violation of copyright law, you may contact the site's host to request removal. In addition, you can request that Google remove the infringing page from our search results by filing a request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Keep in mind that if a canonical URL is in a Search Console property that you don't own, you won't be able to see any of the traffic for your duplicate page.