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Why Isn’t Google Indexing All My Pages? (and everything you need to know about indexing)

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Is Google indexing all the pages on your website? Is it indexing any of them? Making sure that Google indexes your website is critical for SEO: your pages won’t rank if Google doesn’t acknowledge their existence.

How can you be sure Google’s indexing all the pages you want it to? In this article, we’re going to help you achieve more success with your website.

 

What Is Google Indexing?

Google indexing is best defined by thinking of an index in a book. Google’s bots crawl the web looking for new web pages: when they’re found, they’re added to the Google Search Index.

This is a master list of over 100 billion webpages that Google can display in search results. No matter how much you improve your SEO, if you’re not in the index, Google won’t display your webpages in search results.

How to check which pages are being indexed (Two methods):

  • In your Google Search Console account, see the Coverage report, which shows how many URLs are “valid,” with details on their indexing status. If you have pages that aren’t indexed, the report generally tells you why.
  • Do a “site: search” in Google. For example, if your site is mywebsite.com, then Google “site:mywebsite.com.” All your indexed pages should appear in the search results.

When you start a website from scratch, Google has no way of knowing it exists. You need to help them along, which leads us to…

 

Submit Your XML sitemap

Through your Google Search Console account, submit the XML sitemap(s) to Google.

What is an XML sitemap? It’s a basic list of all URLs on your site. It’s not meant to be read by humans; it’s strictly for Google’s bots. Most website building tools, such as WordPress, will generate the XML sitemap and automatically update it when you create new pages.

It’s important to make sure the XML sitemap is complete and accurate. It should include all URLs on your site and no URLs that don’t exist.

XML sitemaps should not be confused with HTML sitemaps, which are intended for human users. The HTML sitemap usually contains an organized list of links to all your pages, or for larger websites, only the most important pages. It’s standard to link the HTML sitemap from your website footer.

 

Index and Noindex

In each page’s code, you can specify to index or noindex the page. All pages are indexed by default, but any page that you want indexed should ideally have “index” in the page code.

You may want to noindex certain pages, such as “thank you pages” that appear after a user has filled out a form.

 

How Long Does Google Indexing Take?

For established websites, Google should re-crawl your XML sitemap every day and find new pages immediately.

For brand new websites, indexing is a more organic process that can take weeks or months. Google may index certain pages (typically the homepage and other high-level pages) within a few days, but will hold off on indexing all pages. The common theory is that Google wants to see that the site will stick around, be updated, and return positive user experience metrics. SEO professionals often say that Google offers a limited “crawl budget” to your site until it’s more established.

 

What Happens if I 301 Redirect My Pages?

A 301 redirect will send users from one URL to another. It’s used when sites change their URLs or consolidate pages, and it helps retain traffic that you were getting from the old URL.

In the very short term, the old URL will remain in the index, but if a user clicks on it, they’ll arrive at the correct, new URL.

Once Google re-crawls and finds a 301 redirect, it will replace the old URL with the new URL. After that, it’s algorithm will continue to work and may move the URL around the search results, or remove it altogether if it finds the new page irrelevant to the search query.

When you decide to make 301 redirects, it’s important to send users to a new page only when the new page sufficiently serves the same purpose as the old page. Using too many 301 redirects that don’t meet this criteria can potentially affect your entire site’s SEO ranking ability.

 

What Are Some Reasons Google Isn’t Indexing My Pages?

Server Responses

URLs that produce a 404 error for any reason will not be indexed by Google. Thus it’s important to make sure that any redirects to your site are still loading properly.

There are several ways to do this but the best way is to run it through a free checker like HTTPstatus. You want the URL to display a 200 code, which means that everything is functioning normally. If you end up with a 404 or 500 error, Google’s crawlers will not be able to use the URL to index your site.

Robots.txt

Your robots.txt file is a file that Google’s crawlers access to determine how they access and treat the site. If you haven’t formatted and optimized your robots.txt file, it’s possible that crawlers are being blocked from parts of your site.

Optimizing this file is a crucial part of technical SEO and one that you must address if you want Google to index all of your webpages.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is word-for-word content that’s also found on other webpages, whether on your site or another site. While some sites may have bits of duplicate content in things like product descriptions, you should avoid duplicating entire pages at all costs. Google will see this as plagiarism or an attempt to “trick” the search engine, which it dings. 

Use Copyscape to cut down on duplicate content and improve Google indexing of your site.

Slow Page Load Times

Page speed is one of the most crucial elements of a webpage’s search ranking. Google puts a premium on page speed, and if your site is too slow, Google indexing for your site may rot over time.

There are numerous ways to improve page loading times. Some of these include:

  • Opting for a minimalist web design

  • Not using shared hosting

  • Compressing images

  • Not running too many scripts on your webpages

If your site is slow, your page’s rank and indexing will suffer in the long run.

Bad Mobile Support

Google also wants to ensure that mobile users have a good experience on your site. If you don’t score well for mobile-friendliness, your page ranking can drop and indexing can, once again, rot. 

This is also crucial for getting your site indexed in the first place. Google’s mobile-first indexing policy means that its crawlers prefer to index mobile versions of sites first. If you don’t have a mobile site and instead squash your desktop site onto a phone screen, it won’t be seen as a high priority for Google’s indexing process.

Orphaned Pages

Orphaned pages are pages on your site that don’t have any internal links. Your website and sitemap are crucial for finding new pages: think of them as a roadmap for the crawler.

This means that if there are webpages on your site that aren’t linked to by another page, Google may not bother finding them. An orphaned page can be given a metaphorical parent by linking to it from another page on your site that Google has indexed. A link to the page from an external source also helps them get found.

You want to avoid orphaned pages on your website as much as possible and should develop a watertight internal linking policy.

How We Can Help

If your website’s Google indexing is substandard, this could be because of many factors.

If you’d like to get some advice and make sure that Google indexing finds all your site’s pages, we can help you. We’re SEO experts and would be happy to help Google find your pages, rank your pages high, and boost your business. For more information about our rates and services, please get in touch with us.

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