We have a large WordPress site with around 17.000 posts and various categories and tags. Google Search Console shows over 500.000 with the notice "Duplicate without user-selected canonical". So it seems we have a major duplicate content issue.

The weird thing is this is triggered by pages that shouldn’t exist within WordPress. They seem like paginated category archives but each of them include our complete post archive. All of them seem to have one or several times "page" in the slug as well as "0".

As we see it alle these pages shouldn’t exist and opening the corresponding URLs result in a 404 error page.

After lots of tests (fresh install, no themes, plugins) and research we conclude this is a WordPress problem - especially as multiple popular websites using WordPress show these kind of unnecessary pages too:




The problem even occurs when using random characters in the slug:


In order to remove a potential major SEO issue we’re looking to address this but haven’t found a solution yet. Neither have multiple consulted developers.

Any ideas would be highly appreciated. Someone else sure must have noticed this issue too?

Cheers, Thomas

  • It's not unusual that content can be accessed through multiple URLs, even URLs with useless parameters - the referenced URLs fit some permalink structure, so WordPress serves them as best it can. If a link to such a URL is never used anywhere on the site/in the markup, then nothing has any reason to visit it. It's only a problem when crawlers are somehow informed of the routes and unable to definitively assert that the extraneous URL isn't serving the same instances of content from a more canonical source. Are you using any SEO/sitemap plugins?
    – bosco
    Aug 23, 2022 at 17:36
  • In short, I don't think the problem is that WordPress serves something at those URLs - it's that your site is somehow informing Google Search Console that it should process them. GSC doesn't brute-force URLs to test - something is telling it that it should look there.
    – bosco
    Aug 23, 2022 at 17:47
  • We're using Yoast SEO. How Google reaches the unwanted URLs isn't clear for us. We're therefore now considering to programmatically assign all category archive URLs containing "/0/" noindex.
    – Thomas
    Aug 24, 2022 at 5:22
  • @Thomas, in my opinion it would probably be best to maintain the same logic as WordPress does when visiting /page/1/. In that case, it redirects to the first page of the pagination. I believe that would be better than to simply set those kind of URL's to noindex as the pages don't need to be accessed.
    – DeltaG
    Aug 24, 2022 at 10:50


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