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My dynamic search pages are marked as duplicate content by Google (Alternate page with proper canonical tag) even though the content on the pages is different. Each page is on a single URL with structure:

/search?description=&location=

Each unique page has unique meta tags. As my site's search requires a location input for the searches to work, any pages without a location parameter have the noindex property. Currently the canonical URL is set to just /search without any parameters, which will always display an error page.

The dynamic content on the different pages loads correctly by Googlebot user agent and the unique meta tags seem to be recognized. Does anyone know why google might think search pages which display unique results are marked as duplicate? Sorry if I'm not making much sense, I am still learning.

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    You need to disallow: /search in robots.txt if you don't want your site penalized. Google never wants to index search results, no matter how unique they are. See Search results in search results by Matt Cutts Dec 21, 2023 at 12:49
  • Sorry, forgive me if I'm wrong although are you suggesting that I completely remove the search results pages from google or I'll get penalized? If so then as the post you linked mentions, how does YouTube get away with it? And other big sites like yelp.com which have hundreds of search results in search results which use URL parameters. These sites are achieving search results similar to what I'm hoping for with my own site so when you say I shouldn't be indexing the search page I get kind of confused.
    – Aiden
    Dec 22, 2023 at 2:39
  • Youtube has Disallow: /results in robots.txt which prevents their search results from getting crawled and indexed. Dec 22, 2023 at 10:11
  • Yelp is playing a very dangerous game. I can search for "viagra" and get a URL that could be crawled and indexed: https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=viagra&find_loc=Atlanta%2C+GA Google has penalized sites for that. Dec 22, 2023 at 10:12
  • I'd also advise that big sites can sometimes get away with things that small sites cannot. People would complain and Google would get awful press coverage if they penalized Yelp or Youtube in the search results. Dec 22, 2023 at 10:15

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