Chances are you've run into this issue at some point. Have you ever typed in the URL for your website's home page, only to find it redirects somewhere else? Perhaps an old URL is still displayed in your browser bar, or maybe you go "home" to where you expect it to be and end up somewhere unexpected. If so, your site may have duplicate home pages.
If Google can't tell which page is canonical (the real one) because there are multiple URLs pointing to any given page on-site, they'll either ignore that page altogether or they'll effectively split the link equity between all of the pages pointing there. That means no matter which version of the home page gets to more (or which appears higher in the results), you're not going to get full credit. That also means that none of your URLs is going to be as strong as it could be, which will make them less likely to rank for any given query.
We recommend using Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) to submit a request letting them know about these problems so they can handle it for you. If they aren't notified, or if nothing changes after you submit a report, there's no official penalty for having this happen but it can still affect rankings. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and go ahead and let them know right away! You may have already seen an annotation on your site saying something like "This page may be indexed incorrectly" in Google Search Console. That would indicate this problem.
If you don't use Search Console already, we suggest making sure that you do because it contains a lot of really valuable information that can help you to improve your site's performance in Google's search results. It's free and there are tons of helpful guides on how to get started , so there's no reason not to! You can also visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. Keep in mind that every site should have its own Search Console account and should be checked regularly for issues like these—not just sites with lots of traffic or high rankings, but also smaller ones since they still matter and may need more attention from time to time! In the event that you have not used Search Console before, you need to create an account first.
If the problem persists even though you submitted a report, there are other things that can be done. Duplicate home pages are just one example of crawl errors Google's web crawlers may encounter. If they're not able to reach your site through one page on your domain, they'll simply choose another way to access it instead—one that you might not know about or expect them to use! This usually means crawling through an alternate URL, which can cause similar rankings problems as having multiple home pages in the first place...especially if the page receiving all of the link equity isn't set up for duplicate content issues like using canonicals or noindex tags.
It would be nice if there were a surefire way to prevent crawlers from reaching your site in the first place, but it's not always possible. We can't stop them from crawling our sites altogether because it's their job, but the last thing we want is for them to go somewhere where they shouldn't so we need to make sure that doesn't happen. This means making an effort to set up best practices like redirection rules (301s), canonical tags (rel=canonical), and noindex/nofollow annotations; as well as precluding related content issues with pagination by properly linking URLs containing page numbers (such as http://domain.com/page/?p=3).
We've discussed these issues before, even looking at how to implement them on our own sites. The only way to make sure that Google (and other search engines) aren't seeing multiple home pages is to set up your site with the right redirects and/or canonical tags—preferably both. Of course, this doesn't always solve everything because not all crawlers use robots.txt rules or respect noindex/nofollow tags, so you may need to take extra steps like blocking crawling completely or controlling access through headers via htaccess . This goes for any URLs that are likely to see high traffic from search engine result pages too, which includes category/tag archives as well as URL parameters within those pages.
That's everything we have on this topic for now. Though it may seem complicated, maintaining a single home page with multiple indexed URLs shouldn't be that difficult if you stay on top of things. Of course that means more work on your end since there's no "set it and forget it" option to help with duplicate content issues, but the benefits of having only one home page are worth putting in the effort.
If you have any questions or simply need someone to bounce ideas off of, feel free to reach out! We'll do what we can to help. Just contact us using our contact form . Include as many details as possible so we have enough information to provide accurate feedback...and don't worry about formatting because whatever format works best is fine with us :).
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