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Having a website is an effective tool for businesses to communicate with their customers, and having it appear in search engines is vital for it to be seen. While sure, you can tell people your website address, if you want to attract organic visitors to your website, then it needs to be visible on Google, Bing, and other major search engines.
Just because you’ve created a website doesn’t mean it will automatically become available in search engines. Websites need to be indexed by search engines so that they become visible to users. From there, websites are ranked and presented to users in order of what’s deemed the most useful or relevant by the search engines.
How can you check if your website is indexed and what can you do if it isn’t? Find out if your site is listed in this helpful guide.
Understanding Site Indexing
To understand how site indexing works, it’s a good idea to look at search engines as a whole. Let’s take a closer look:
Crawling is the process used by search engines to discover new content. This can include everything from websites and new pages, to images, videos and more. However, it’s important to remember that every piece of content has a link attached to it.
Google’s crawler is called Googlebot, and carries out searches every couple of seconds to crawl for new content. You can learn more about Googlebot and the type of content it looks for to help give you an indication of how your site starts to appear on Google.
Now we get to indexing. Once content has been identified by the crawler, content is then stored by the search engine and is recorded, known as indexing. Just as when you visit a library to search for a book, when you visit a search engine, its index will be searched to bring you the most relevant content – a process known as ranking.
All content stored within a search engine’s database is ranked according to different factors, such as the relevancy of the content. This is where SEO becomes important for helping to demonstrate to Google, Bing, etc. that your content is valuable and should be seen by those who are using their search engine.
In the majority of cases, site indexing happens automatically, with nothing to do on your part. However, there may be some instances where your website hasn’t been accessible to crawlers, and therefore hasn’t been indexed. This is why it’s important to check your website’s index status to ensure that everything is working as it should be.
Checking Site Indexation Status
Checking the side indexation status of your website is a simple process. It’s free to do and you can get results instantly. While you may think all you need to do is search for your business name in Google or Bing, what you need to do is type the address of your website into the search box. Simply use site: followed by your URL, for example – site:https://mysiteauditor.com/. This means the search engine will only search for results from your website.
Google has a great video in their ‘Search for Beginners’ series to explain how to check if your website is indexed:
However, just because your main URL is appearing in search results, not all of your pages may be indexed. Carrying out a check on individual pages can be a time-consuming task, however, there are tools available that will let you search multiple pages at once to ensure that they’re indexed.
Common Reasons for Site Non-Indexation
If your website isn’t showing as indexed, there could be several reasons why, including:
Your website is brand new
If your website is brand new, it’s possible that it hasn’t been discovered by the search engine yet. You could wait for this to happen, or you can take a faster approach and sign up for Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools and request for your website to be indexed.
Both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools contain a range of valuable tools to help you improve the management of your website, and even help you improve your search engine rankings.
Your website has been de-indexed
Search engines may decide to de-index your website for several reasons – even if it had previously been indexed. Some of the most common reasons are that it has breached Google Webmaster Guidelines or there is a fundamental issue with the site.
You have blocked search engine crawlers
You may be blocking website crawlers without even realizing it, possibly due to a setting within your own web pages. For example, you may have configured your website’s robot.txt file to block search engine crawlers.
Your web pages contain a ‘noindex’ meta tag
Check to see if your website contains a ‘noindex’ meta tag. This instructs search engines not to index specific pages, and if it applies to all of your pages, you may find your default settings are behind it.
If you’re troubleshooting why individual pages aren’t being indexed, one of the first things you should look for is the presence of a ‘no-index’ meta tag.
You have duplicate content
Search engines can penalize you for having either duplicate content or multiple versions of the same page. A better approach to content management can help resolve this.
Your pages contain 404 errors
If your pages contain a dreaded 404 Not Found error, you may have broken links within your website, which means they can’t be indexed by search engines.
Your website features low-quality content
If a search engine deems your website to feature low-quality content, it may decide not to index your website. This can also affect your ranking if your site is indexed.
Your website has crawlability issues
Your website has server issues
If your server is causing problems for your website, such as frequent downtime or slow server response times, you could find yourself with indexing issues.
You have security issues
Search engines try to protect their users from malware and other security issues. If your website is infected, search engines may decide not to index it.
Your XML sitemap contains errors
An XML sitemap full of errors can cause issues for search engines. Maintaining a clean and up-to-date sitemap can ensure your website is indexed properly.
You have inadequate backlinks
A website that has too few backlinks or backlinks that are deemed low quality could mean your website isn’t indexed properly.
Your website has geographic restrictions
Some websites may include geotargeting settings which can prevent them from being indexed in specific regions. Some websites based in the US, for example, may not display in Europe-based search results due to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) Guidelines.
Your content isn’t publicly accessible
If your website has a paywall or requires a login to access pages, it may not be indexed by search engines and may need manual indexing to ensure it becomes visible in results.
These are some of the most common reasons behind indexing issues. There could be other potential issues to blame, which can be resolved by troubleshooting your website.
Troubleshooting and Resolving Indexation Problems
If you’re concerned that your website isn’t being indexed by search engines, you need to take action to work out what’s behind the issue, and take action to resolve it. You can work through the list above to rule out these issues, or you can use an indexing report to help you get to the bottom of things.
Google’s page indexing report
Fortunately, Google has made it easy to help you identify which pages can be found and indeed on your site, while also identifying any potential issues.
Use Google’s Page Indexing Report for answers.
Bing’s URL inspection tool
Bing also has its own tools to help you check if your website has been indexed, as well as any potential errors. You will need to submit a URL for inspection, and Bing will return an Index card containing a report of your website.
Take a look at Bing’s URL inspection tool to get started.
Generally, if your website is indexed by Google, it should be indexed by Bing and other search engines. However, there are instances where your site may be indexed by one search engine, but not another. You may need to carry out troubleshooting for individual search engines or use a plugin via your web content management system.
Prevention and Best Practices for Site Indexation
Ensuring your website is indexed properly is important for many reasons, including:
- Indexing ensures your website is found in search engines. Online visibility is vital to bringing traffic to your website or business.
- Indexing ensures organic traffic is possible, meaning people searching for content, products, or services like yours could come across you in results.
- Indexing helps improve credibility, showing people that your website is genuine. It can add an air of legitimacy, which can help people feel more at ease when choosing whether to open your website.
- An indexed website could help you engage with a wider audience, which will boost your visitor numbers, engagement rates and possibly impact your conversion rates.
- If you want to grow your website or business, indexing can help you reach the largest possible audience so that you can expand your market reach.
By preventing site indexation issues, you can give your website the best chance of being accessed by users, helping you achieve your business goals. Without proper indexing, you cannot be ranked by search engines, which can render your SEO strategies useless. Fixing site indexation issues is fundamental to developing a successful website.
Best practices for Site Indexation
Whether you’re a web developer responsible for multiple sites or you’re a business managing just a single website, it’s important to ensure you have site indexing in place. Some of the best practices for site indexation include:
Create a user-friendly URL structure
Your URLs should feature naming protocols that are descriptive, and easy for users to understand. This not only helps search engines to crawl and index your website, but can improve user experience too.
Keep your content up-to-date
Fresh, relevant content can encourage search engines to revisit your site, boosting indexation frequency while helping your website stay relevant for visitors.
Optimize your images
Make sure your website’s images are optimized to ensure fast loading times.
Use heading tags to aid search
Adding heading tags to content can give it structure and make it easier to read. It can also help search engines understand the hierarchy of your content, which can help demonstrate the value that can lead your website to be indexed.
Leverage schema markup
Implement schema markup to provide structured data to search engines. This will help enhance how your content appears in search results.
Monitor your page load speed
Slow loading speeds can hinder your website. Check your main address regularly to ensure it loads as expected, helping to ensure it is indexed properly.
Implement a mobile-first approach
Mobile-friendliness is essential for indexation. Search engines prioritize mobile-friendly content, so you may need to carry out some mobile optimization to ensure your website is suitable for mobile devices.
Website redirects can be useful in some instances, but if you have too many, it can slow down crawlers. Avoid having too many redirects for your website.
Boost your meta descriptions
Improving your meta descriptions to make them more compelling can impact your search results and improve indexing too.
Make sure your website is secure
A secure website is a must for indexing. Secure your website with HTTPS, as search engines prioritize this. It can also help build trust with visitors.
Use search console tools
Search console tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools can help you stay up to date with your website and ensure it is indexed properly.
Stay up to date with search engine guidelines
Search engines are constantly updating their guidelines and best practice to make improvements and keep users safe. Complying with these guidelines can help ensure your website stays indexed, and could boost your search engine rankings.
Regularly audit your website
A regular site audit will help you identify issues such as broken links, duplicate content, and crawl errors. MySiteAuditor provides a helpful SEO report that can highlight some of the problems your website is having, which could create indexing issues. With a regular audit, you can maintain your website’s health and focus on improving its SEO.
Monitoring and Tracking Site Indexation
It’s easy to take site indexation for granted, but regular monitoring is vital to help maintain website performance. Some top tips for monitoring and tracking site indexation include:
- Monitor your traffic. Any sudden dips in numbers could indicate an indexing issue.
- Use search tools like Google Search Console to receive up-to-date reports for your website.
- Carry out searches using the “site” operator to help you get a clear picture of current results. You can also carry out keyword searches to help identify whether specific pages appear in search results.
- Use crawl tools to help you identify broken links and other issues.
- Use audit tools to help you monitor both technical and content issues that might affect indexation.
Case Studies and Examples
Google has some excellent examples of businesses that have made improvements to their websites to help improve their search results. Eventbrite, the world’s leading event platform, took steps to enhance its SEO to improve the online visibility of its events.
Optimizing content to meet standards for Google’s event search allowed these results to be indexed properly in search engine results. This mainly involved the use of Event structured data, which not only ensured results were indexed, but allowed users to perform actions from within the search results, such as viewing event details without having to click the link.
Eventbrite also ensured that content was geographically optimized to ensure results were relevant for those browsing in different countries. They also used the Google Search Console to eliminate any markup errors, which can impact website indexing.
Eventbrite saw a 100% increase in its typical year-on-year growth of traffic from Google Search following improvements made to its page structures, while also providing a better user experience.
Eventbrite is a fantastic example of how adjusting your content to align with search engine guidelines and best practice can ensure your pages are carefully indexed, allowing your website to appear in search results and reach a wide audience – something that could be crucial for the success of your business.
Website indexing is a fundamental process for your website. Without it, you will be unable to receive the organic traffic that can make or break your business. Proper indexing is the gateway to search engine rankings, allowing you to put SEO strategies in place to help your website make it to the top of search results.
Verify the status of your website and boost your SEO strategy with the help of MySiteAuditor.