• author: Google Search Central

Troubleshooting Indexation Issues: What to Do When Your Site or Pages Are Not Indexed

Welcome to another episode of "In Search of the Record," a podcast brought to you by the Google search team. In today's episode, we will be discussing the topic of indexation and addressing the common problem of websites or specific pages not being indexed. I'm your host, Martin, joined by John and Gary from the search relations team.

The Importance of Understanding Indexing vs. Ranking

Before we dive into the details, it's essential to differentiate between indexing and ranking. Often, people confuse these terms and misinterpret their search performance issues. Indexing refers to the process of search engines discovering and storing web content in their databases, whereas ranking is the position a page holds within search engine results. Understanding this distinction is crucial in diagnosing and resolving indexation issues effectively.

Checking for Indexing Problems

When users approach us with concerns about indexing, the first step is to verify if their site or pages are genuinely not indexed. This could involve analyzing crawling, indexing, and serving aspects of search. To obtain accurate information, we recommend utilizing Google Search Console, a powerful tool that offers valuable insights into your site's indexing status. Through Search Console, you can examine the number of indexed pages, identify where search engines pick them up, and gain an overview of your site's indexing performance.

Another helpful feature within Search Console is the URL inspection tool. This tool allows webmasters to check the indexing status of individual pages. By entering a specific URL, you can determine whether it is indexed by Google. While other methods for checking indexation may exist, we strongly recommend relying on Search Console due to its accuracy and reliability.

Interpreting Indexation Reports

The indexation report within Search Console presents a comprehensive breakdown of your site's indexing status. It indicates the number of pages indexed and offers insights into why certain pages may not be indexed. Examining this report provides a holistic view of your site's indexation health. However, it is crucial to remember that analyzing individual pages through the URL inspection tool often provides more precise information than evaluating the entire site.

Differentiating Between Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking

To better pinpoint the root cause of indexation issues, it's important to understand the distinctions between crawling, indexing, and ranking. Crawling refers to the process where search engines discover and navigate your website. Indexing refers to the storage of crawled pages in the search engine's database. Finally, ranking entails determining the position of indexed pages within search results.

Troubleshooting Different Scenarios

Let's explore some scenarios that may indicate various indexation issues:

  1. No Pages Indexed: If none of your site's pages are indexed, this likely points to significant problems. As mentioned earlier, search engines prioritize crawling and indexing a website's homepage. If even the homepage fails to get indexed, it indicates a potential technical issue. Problems with server accessibility or misconfiguration of the robots.txt file might prevent indexing.

  2. Partial Indexation: A common situation is when a website has some pages indexed while others are not. This scenario suggests a more nuanced issue, such as certain pages lacking quality or not meeting search engine guidelines. By assessing indexed pages' content and analyzing how the internet reacts to them, search engines can determine a site's overall quality.

  3. Content-Related Indexing Problems: If the pages being served contain little to no substantial content, it may lead to poor indexation. Pages with only multimedia elements or empty pages might not meet the criteria for search engines to consider them worthy of indexing.

  4. Undiscoverable Home Page: In some cases, search engines may struggle to find a website's homepage, resulting in no indexing. This issue typically arises when the homepage lacks proper internal or external linking. Ensuring your homepage is easily discoverable by search engines is critical for successful indexation.

Technical and Non-Technical Causes

While many indexation issues stem from technical problems, other non-technical factors can hinder search engine indexing. Here are some potential causes to consider:

  • Technical Causes: These encompass server accessibility issues, problems with the robots.txt file, or incorrect implementation of other technical elements that obstruct crawling and indexing.

  • Content Issues: Poor-quality content, thin or duplicated content, or pages lacking substantial textual information may not be considered for indexing.

  • Linking Troubles: When search engines cannot discover the URL of a page, it may result in non-indexation. Proper internal and external linking is essential for ensuring search engines can navigate and index your site effectively.

It's worth noting that troubleshooting should consider both technical and non-technical aspects to address the full range of potential indexation problems effectively.

Common Issues with Indexing

When it comes to website indexing, there are several common issues that webmasters may encounter. These issues can range from technical problems to content-related issues. Understanding these issues and how to address them is crucial for ensuring that your website is properly indexed by search engines. Let's take a closer look at some of these issues:

1. Robots.txt Blockage

One common issue webmasters face is mistakenly blocking their site from being indexed using the robots.txt file. This file is used to communicate with search engine crawlers and tell them which parts of the site to crawl and index. However, if the robots.txt file is not configured correctly, search engines may not be able to index the site properly. It's important to double-check your robots.txt file to ensure that it is not causing any unintended blockages.

2. Discovery Issues

Another issue that can affect indexing is the lack of links to your website's homepage. Without any incoming links, search engines may have difficulty discovering the URL of your homepage. This can result in poor indexing or, in some cases, no indexing at all. Building a strong network of external links and promoting your website through various channels can help improve discoverability.

3. Canonicalization

Canonicalization refers to the process of consolidating multiple URLs with similar content into a single, preferred URL. However, issues with canonicalization can arise if search engines end up indexing the wrong version of your site. For example, you may have multiple versions of your site (with and without "www") and if the non-preferred version is indexed, it can lead to confusion and poor search visibility. It's important to configure canonical tags and ensure that search engines are indexing the correct version of your site.

4. Soft Error Pages Detection

Soft error pages, such as "site under construction" or placeholder pages, may not be intended for indexing. However, in some cases, these pages can get indexed due to various factors, including internal linking or outdated settings. Webmasters should review their website's soft error pages and ensure that they are not being unintentionally indexed.

5. Delayed Indexing

Webmasters may sometimes feel that their content is taking too long to be indexed. While search engines can index pages in a matter of seconds if there is high interest or relevance, indexing can also take longer for less popular or niche content. It's important to set realistic expectations and understand that search engines prioritize indexing based on the quality and relevancy of the content.

6. Content Quality and Uniqueness

Having high-quality and unique content is crucial for search engine indexing. Search engines prioritize pages that offer value to users and provide unique perspectives. If your content is not getting the desired indexing, it may be worth revisiting the quality and uniqueness of your content. Creating engaging and valuable content can help improve indexing and search visibility.

7. Removal or Historical Spam Issues

In some cases, a website may have previously hosted spam or been flagged as a low-quality site by search engines. This can result in the entire site being removed from the index. Webmasters should conduct regular checks to ensure that their site has not been flagged for spam or low-quality content.

Understanding these common indexing issues and taking appropriate measures to address them can help improve your website's indexing and search visibility. It's important to stay updated with search engine guidelines and best practices to ensure optimal indexing and ranking performance.

The Importance of Indexing and Requesting Indexing in Google Search Console

When it comes to getting your website content indexed by Google, there are a few important factors to consider. In this article, we will discuss the significance of indexing and how to request indexing using Google Search Console.

Indexing Quota and Content Relevance

Google's indexing process is not limited by a quota per site. This means that you can have multiple types of content on the same website and still have them all indexed by Google. However, it's important to note that Google prioritizes content based on its relevance and popularity. If your content is continuously receiving links and engagement, it is more likely to be retained in the index.

Indexing Request Option in Google Search Console

Google Search Console provides the option to request indexing for specific web pages. While this can be useful in some cases, it is generally not necessary for websites with good overall quality. Google's algorithms are designed to automatically discover and index new content on reputable websites.

Situational Use of the Indexing Request Function

There are situations where using the indexing request function may be appropriate. For example, if you have breaking news or time-sensitive content that needs immediate indexing, submitting a request can help expedite the process. Additionally, if you need to verify whether certain content is indexable, submitting a test request can provide insights or error messages.

The Potency of the Site: Command in Identifying Indexed Pages

The "site:" command in Google search, commonly used to check indexed pages, has its limitations. It displays only a selection of indexed pages and may not provide a complete list. On the other hand, Google Search Console can provide more accurate information about the number of indexed pages for a given website.

Additional Uses of "site:" and Image Search

While "site:" may not be comprehensive, it can still be useful to quickly check if specific pages are indexed. It can also help identify unwanted keywords or content that you do not want associated with your website. Likewise, using image search or the images tab can be beneficial for verifying the images indexed from your site, especially if you have user-generated content.

Concluding Thoughts and What's Coming Next

In this episode, we explored the significance of indexing and how to request indexing using Google Search Console. We hope you found this discussion on potato peelers and indexing both entertaining and insightful. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we will delve into the process of choosing a domain name. As always, thank you for joining us, and don't forget to like and subscribe. Happy indexing!

Note: This article is a transcription of the podcast episode where John and Gary discuss various aspects of indexing and its connection to potato peelers. The conversation may have been tangential or humorous at times.Understanding indexation issues and their underlying causes is crucial for website owners and webmasters. by utilizing tools like google search console and performing thorough analyses, it becomes possible to identify problems and take the necessary steps towards resolving them. with a well-indexed website, you can improve your chances of ranking higher in search results and gaining organic visibility.

stay tuned for more informative episodes on "in search of the record" as we dive deeper into the world of search engine optimization and webmastering.

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