How to Fix Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical?

Duplicate content can be a headache for website owners and SEO professionals alike. While the ideal solution to this issue is to set user-selected canonical URLs, sometimes it’s just not possible due to various reasons. Whether you’re dealing with e-commerce product listings, multiple URLs for the same content, or dynamic parameters, there are alternative strategies to tackle duplicate content problems effectively.

In this blog, we will explore innovative techniques and best practices to fix duplicate without user-selected canonical. These strategies are essential for maintaining a strong online presence and improving search engine rankings while ensuring a smooth user experience.

What is Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical?

Content duplication without user-selected canonical URLs refers to the presence of identical or substantially similar content on a website that doesn’t employ canonical tags designated by the website owner or user to specify the preferred version of the content for search engines. Duplicate content can be problematic for SEO, as search engines may struggle to determine which page to rank and index, potentially resulting in lower search engine rankings and visibility.

Common scenarios where duplicate content may occur without user-selected canonical tags include e-commerce websites with product listings accessible through various navigation paths, dynamic URL parameters that generate multiple versions of the same content, and printer-friendly or mobile-friendly versions of web pages.

Addressing duplicate content without user-selected canonical tags requires alternative methods.

Some solutions include using Google Search Console or other tools to instruct search engines on how to handle URL parameters. This helps ensure that only one version of the content is indexed, redirecting duplicate URLs to the preferred version using 301 redirects. This tells search engines which version of the content is authoritative. Implementing rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags for paginated content guides search engines to view them as a single content piece. Also, combining duplicate pages into one provides a clear and comprehensive source of information.

By understanding how to address duplicate content without user-selected canonical tags, website owners can maintain a more organised and SEO-friendly website while offering a better user experience and optimising their search engine rankings.

What Are the Causes?

This content duplication is a status that is caused by two things:

Content Duplication

Content duplication occurs when similar content appears on multiple web pages within a website. This can happen for various reasons. A common example of this is product descriptions on e-commerce sites, where similar products have similar descriptions, or content syndication, where the same articles are published on multiple websites.

Search engines aim to deliver diverse and valuable search results to users, so when they encounter duplicate content, they may struggle to determine which version is most relevant. This can lead to lower search engine rankings and visibility, as search engines might choose not to index some duplicate pages, impacting overall SEO performance.

Using Canonical Tags

Canonical tags, when used correctly, can prevent content duplication issues. However, they can also unintentionally cause problems when not used correctly. When website owners specify a canonical URL using these tags, they’re essentially telling search engines that the specified page is the preferred or authoritative version, and others are duplicates.

If canonical tags are incorrectly set on the wrong page, it can result in the wrong version being indexed, affecting search engine rankings. This can happen due to human error, CMS issues, or changes in website structure. It’s vital to use canonical tags carefully and regularly audit their use to avoid unwanted SEO services.

How to Fix Duplicate without User-Selected Canonical?

Duplicate content issues can seriously impact your website’s search engine rankings. While the ideal solution is to use user-selected canonical tags to specify the preferred version of the content, there are alternative strategies to tackle duplicate content problems effectively. Let us explore different methods to fix duplicate content issues without relying on user-selected canonical tags.

URL Parameter Handling

Many websites create duplicate content by using URL parameters, which generate multiple versions of the same page. For example, an e-commerce website might allow users to filter products by colour or size, resulting in different URLs for the same product. In the “URL Parameters” tool within Google Search Console, you can instruct search engines on how to handle these parameters.

For instance, you can tell Google to ignore specific parameters or to crawl them but not index them. This way, you can ensure that only one version of the content is indexed, avoiding duplicate content issues.

301 Redirects

If you have multiple pages with similar or duplicate content, you can use 301 redirects to consolidate them into one preferred version. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that tells search engines which page is the authoritative version. Google Search Console is a valuable tool to monitor the performance of 301 redirects. It provides insights into how Googlebot processes these redirects and whether there are any issues.

Pagination Tags

Websites often have paginated content, like long articles or product listings. Properly implementing rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags in the HTML code can guide search engines to view paginated content as a single content piece rather than separate duplicate pages. Google Search Console can help you identify issues with pagination tags and alert you to any potential problems, such as when these tags are misconfigured or not properly recognised by search engines.


To avoid duplicate content, consider consolidating similar pages into one, providing a clear and comprehensive source of information. This is particularly effective for e-commerce websites with multiple similar product pages or for blog sites with related articles. Google Search Console can help you monitor how well the consolidation efforts are performing by tracking the indexing and ranking of the consolidated page.

Use of "Noindex" Meta Tags

For duplicate content that you don’t want to consolidate or redirect, you can use the “noindex” meta tag on those pages. This tag instructs search engines not to index the page while still allowing it to be crawled. Google Search Console can help you monitor the indexing status of pages with the “noindex” meta tag, ensuring that search engines comply with your directives.

Content Rewriting and Optimisation

If you have multiple pages with similar content, consider rewriting and optimising them to be more unique and valuable. By providing distinct information or perspectives on each page, you can reduce the likelihood of search engines flagging them as duplicate content. Google Search Console can assist by tracking the performance of the revised pages and evaluating whether the duplicate content issue has been effectively addressed.

Finding Duplicate Content Versions

To fix duplicate content issues effectively, you first need to identify where they exist. Google Search Console offers several features to help with this:

  • HTML Improvements: This section in Google Search Console provides insights into duplicate title tags and meta descriptions, helping you identify potential issues.
  • Coverage Report: The Coverage Report displays indexing information about your pages, including those with duplicate content or other issues. It allows you to see which specific pages Google has detected as having duplicate content.

Impact of Duplicate Content on SEO and User Experience

Duplicate content can be a real troublemaker for your website. Search engines don’t like seeing the same stuff over and over again. When they encounter duplicate content, it confuses them, and they struggle to figure out which page to show in search results. This can lead to lower rankings, and that’s bad news for your SEO efforts.

But it is not only related to search engines but also impacts the user experience. Imagine clicking on different links and landing on almost identical pages. It’s frustrating, right? So, fixing duplicate content isn’t just about SEO; it’s about making your website user-friendly, too.


Fixing duplicate content requires a combination of proactive strategies, appropriate HTML tags, and vigilant monitoring using tools like Google Search Console. If you are new to SEO, then a digital marketing agency UK can help you with the process. By implementing the right methods and leveraging the insights from Google Search Console, professionals can help you maintain a more SEO-friendly website, offer a better user experience, and optimise your search engine rankings effectively.


Blue decoration piece on a digital marketing agency website


Blue decoration piece on a digital marketing agency website

Let’s find out how to work together and create something meaningful or valuable.