Many new websites face different types of indexing issues, but the Search Console doesn’t always provide specific details about the problem. This can make it difficult to determine how to resolve the issue.
To help you identify and fix indexing issues, I’ve created a free indexing checklist. This checklist will guide you through the process of troubleshooting and resolving indexing issues in Google.
Before diving into the checklist, it’s essential to understand the basics of indexing and how it works. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions about resolving indexing issues.
Fix Indexing Issues On Your Company’s Website
1. Check Disallow in robots.txt
This is one of the most common settings that most people overlook. You must first check if the page is allowed to be crawled by Google bots, Bing bots, and other search engine crawlers. If you have disallowed them in the robots.txt file, Google will not crawl your website, and your web pages will not be indexed in search engine results pages (SERPs).
You can use a free tool called “robots.txt Validator and Testing Tool” by Technical SEO to check for this issue.
Simply enter your webpage URL where you are facing the indexing issue and select the user agent as “Googlebot.” Then, click on the “Test” button. The tool will check the robots.txt file of your website and inform you whether the page is blocked or unblocked for Googlebot.
If the result is “allowed,” you can proceed to the next step. However, if it is shown as “not allowed,” you will need to review your robots.txt rules.
2. Check no index tag in header
The noindex tag is used to instruct search engine bots not to crawl and index a page. If the tag is present in the header of your webpage, you will encounter indexing issues. This is because you have essentially instructed Google not to index the page by adding the no index tag. To resolve this issue, you must remove these tags.
Here are examples of noindex tags:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
<meta name="googlebot" content="noindex">
To check for noindex tags, you can use a tool called “Noindex Tag Test” by seositecheckup. Simply enter the webpage URL into this tool, and it will scan your website for noindex tags. If a noindex tag is found, it will display a warning similar to the one shown in the image below.
If you are using a Blogger site, follow these instructions to resolve indexing issues:
For WordPress users, check the settings of your SEO plugins and remove the noindex settings on the relevant pages.
3. Update your Sitemap
If you are encountering indexing issues, you should check your sitemap file to ensure that the URL is included. You can verify this by pasting your website link into the URL inspection tool of Search Console.
Here are some common sitemap links for various types of websites:
- For WordPress sites: /sitemap.xml
- For Shopify sites: /sitemap.xml
- For Wix sites: /sitemap.xml
- For Squarespace sites: /sitemap.xml
Simply replace the website link with your own and search for your sitemap page. You can then search for the specific page by pressing Ctrl + F on your keyboard.
If you are unable to find the page in the sitemap, you will need to review your sitemap settings.
4. Check canonical tags
If you are encountering indexing issues, you might be facing canonical issues as well. It’s important to verify that the correct canonical tag is being used on your website.
To check for canonical issues, paste the webpage URL into the “URL inspection tool” of Google Search Console. This tool will inform you of the canonical URL for that page.
According to Google, “A canonical URL is the URL of the page that Google thinks is most representative from a set of duplicate pages on your site.” For instance, if your webpage is accessible using different variations, such as http, https, or www, Googlebot considers these as separate pages. To resolve this issue, you should set a canonical URL among them, instructing Googlebot to index only the preferred URL and ignore the others.
You can also utilize the “Canonical Tag Test” tool from seositecheckup to identify canonical issues on your website.
In my case, I prefer to use the non-www URL, and if someone tries to access the site using www, they will be automatically redirected to the non-www URL. To handle this scenario, I have implemented the appropriate canonical URL.
Therefore, make sure to test the page URL where you are experiencing indexing problems in the Google Search Console.
5. Check Crawling Issues
If Googlebot encounters difficulties crawling your website, you may encounter indexing issues. Crawling problems can arise from a variety of factors, including:
- Internal broken links: These are links within your website that point to non-existent pages. When Googlebot encounters a broken link, it cannot follow the link to the intended page, which can hinder the crawling process.
- Pages with denied access (403 Status code): These pages are not accessible to Googlebot due to access restrictions. This could be because the pages are password-protected or have been blocked by the website owner.
- Server errors: These errors occur when the website’s server encounters problems, preventing Googlebot from accessing the content. Common server errors include 500 Internal Server Errors and 503 Service Unavailable Errors.
- Limited server capacity (slow hosting): If your website’s server is overloaded or has limited resources, Googlebot may experience delays in crawling the site. This can lead to indexing delays, as Googlebot may not be able to crawl all of your pages promptly.
- Wrong pages in sitemap: If your sitemap includes pages that are no longer relevant or have been removed, Googlebot may waste time trying to crawl these pages instead of focusing on your most important content.
- Redirect loop: A redirect loop occurs when a page redirects to itself or to another page that redirects back to the original page. This can cause Googlebot to get stuck in a loop, preventing it from crawling the rest of your website.
- Slow load speed: If your website pages load slowly, Googlebot may not have enough time to crawl all of your content before moving on to other websites. This can lead to indexing delays, as Googlebot may not be able to process all of your pages quickly enough.
- Flash content: Googlebot does not support Flash content, so if your website uses Flash, it may not be able to crawl and index your pages properly.
To improve your website’s crawlability and avoid indexing issues, you should address these factors. Regularly posting new content can encourage Googlebot to crawl your website more frequently, ensuring that your new content is indexed promptly. Additionally, deleting unnecessary pages and blocking the indexing of category and tag pages can help conserve your website’s crawl budget, allowing Googlebot to focus on your most important content.
6. Check Internal Link
Internal links are an effective way to enhance the discoverability of your content by Googlebot. They also aid bots in comprehending the significance of a piece of content, leading to faster page indexing.
As a result, always link to your new pages from pages that are already indexed. This strategy raises the likelihood of your content being indexed more quickly.
To further optimize your website’s structure, aim to include links to all crucial pages within the homepage, header, and footer sections of your website.
7. Check your Content Quality
Content quality is a crucial factor in determining whether a page gets indexed by Google. If a page contains placeholder text and images, artificially generated content, or plagiarized material, Googlebot is unlikely to index it.
Therefore, it’s essential to create unique, original content that provides value to readers. This is why many new websites face indexing issues due to content quality concerns.
Since Google doesn’t have enough data about new websites and there’s a lack of authority and backlinks, it takes longer for Google to analyze and index their pages.
To address this, focus on creating high-quality, original content. Incorporate internal links and reference credible external sources to support your points. Additionally, try to build backlinks to your website through guest posting and email outreach.
Here are some additional tips for improving content quality:
- Conduct thorough research: Ensure your content is accurate and up-to-date.
- Provide in-depth information: Go beyond superficial coverage and offer valuable insights.
- Maintain a clear and concise writing style: Make your content easy to understand and follow.
- Structure your content effectively: Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to enhance readability.
- Proofread carefully: Eliminate grammatical errors and typos.
By following these guidelines, you can create high-quality content that will attract readers, improve your website’s authority, and increase your chances of getting indexed by Google.
8. Follow Webmaster Guidelines
It’s crucial to be familiar with and adhere to Google’s comprehensive webmaster guidelines. Review the Quality Guidelines and avoid the outlined practices to minimize user-generated spam on your websites.
Additionally, safeguard your websites against malware attacks.
By effectively following this indexing checklist, you can readily resolve any indexing issues you may encounter in Google. I’ve created this free indexing checklist to assist bloggers in independently addressing this problem.
If you have any remaining questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section.