I work on a site that has experienced a drop in search traffic lately. On digging into it, we've noticed that our recent content isn't getting indexed. When I check some of the URLs for new content in Google Search Console, they're showing "Duplicate, submitted URL not selected as canonical" as the reason for not being indexed.

From there, I see multiple instances where when I use the URL Inspection tool the "User-declared canonical" URL is showing a different URL (for a completely different and unrelated piece of content from years before). What's especially odd is that when I use the "TEST LIVE LINK" button, the "User-declared canonical" shows the correct URL.

I'm able to verify that the canonical tags in the content are correct. I've verified that in both Chrome and via curl (just in case some front-end Javascript might have been modifying the rel="canonical" declaration).

So, why might the "User-declared canonical" differ between the "GOOGLE INDEX" versus "LIVE TEST" tabs in the Google Search Console?

  • Did you ever find out the cause of this issue? I'm currently experiencing the same issue on my client's site. The only thing I can think of is that it is a Google indexation bug. – MasterWeb May 30 '19 at 14:36
  • Sadly, no, we didn't find the root cause, despite a lot of time trying. After a couple of months, our content mysteriously began getting indexed in Google again with no clear link to any changes we'd made to try to remedy the issue. It definitely felt like a Google indexing bug, from our perspective. I would suggest reaching out the Google Webmasters community (google.com/webmasters/connect), help forum (support.google.com/webmasters/community), office hours hangouts. My impression is that those are the main channels for getting help from Google. Good luck! – Matt V. May 30 '19 at 18:25

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