If Google doesn’t index your web site, then you’re just about invisible.
You won’t show up for any search queries, and you won’t get any organic traffic some.
Zilch. Nada. Zero.
Given that you’re here, I’m guessing this isn’t news to you. So let’s get straight down to business.
This article teaches you the way to repair any of those 3 problems:
Your entire website isn’t indexed.
Some of your pages are indexed, but others aren’t.
Your newly‐published web content aren’t obtaining indexed quick enough.
But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page and fully‐understand this indexing malarkey.
What is crawling and indexing?
Google discovers new websites by travel the net, and so they add those pages to their index.
They do this using a web spider called Googlebot.
Confused? Let’s define a few key terms.
- Crawling: The process of following hyperlinks on the web to discover new content.
- Indexing: The process of storing every web page in a vast database.
- Web spider: A piece of software designed to carry out the crawling process at scale.
- Googlebot: Google’s web spider.
Here’s a video from Google that explains the process in more detail:
When you Google one thing, you’re asking Google to come back all relevant pages from their index.
Because there are often millions of pages that fit the bill, Google’s ranking algorithm does its best to sort the pages so that you see the best and most relevant results first.
The critical point I’m making here is that indexing and ranking are two different things.
Indexing is showing up for the race; ranking is winning.
You can’t win without showing up for the race in the first place.
How to check if you’re indexed in Google
Go to Google, then search for
This number shows roughly how many of your pages Google has indexed.
If you want to check the index status of a specific URL, use the same
No results will show up if the page isn’t indexed.
Now, it’s worth noting that if you’re a Google Search Console user, you can use the Coverage report to get a more accurate insight into the index status of your website. Just go to:
Google Search Console > Index > Coverage
Look at the number of valid pages (with and without warnings).
If these two numbers total anything but zero, then Google has at least some of the pages on your website indexed. If not, then you have a severe problem because none of your web pages are indexed.
SIDENOTE. Not a Google Search Console user? Sign up. It’s free. Everyone who runs a website and cares about getting traffic from Google should use Google Search Console. It’s that important.
You can also use the Search Console to check whether a specific page is indexed.
To do that, paste the URL into the URL review tool.
If that page is indexed, it’ll say “URL is on Google.”
If the page isn’t indexed, you’ll see the words “URL is not on Google.”
How to get indexed by Google
Found that your web site or online page isn’t indexed in Google?
- Go to Google Search Console
- Navigate to the URL inspection tool
- Paste the URL you’d like Google to index into the search bar.
- Wait for Google to check the URL
- Click the “Request indexing” button
This process is good practice when you publish a new post or page.
You’re effectively telling Google that you’ve added one thing new your website which they must take a glance at it.
However, requesting indexing is unlikely to solve underlying problems preventing Google from indexing old pages. If that’s the case, follow the checklist below to diagnose and fix the problem.
Here are some quick links to each tactic—in case you’ve already tried some:
- Remove crawl blocks in your robots.txt file
- Remove rogue noindex tags
- Include the page in your sitemap
- Remove rogue canonical tags
- Check that the page isn’t orphaned
- Fix nofollow internal links
- Add “powerful” internal links
- Make sure the page is valuable and unique
- Remove low‐quality pages (to optimize “crawl budget”)
- Build high‐quality backlinks
1) Remove crawl blocks in your robots.txt file
Is Google not indexing your entire website? It could be due to a crawl block in something called a robots.txt file.
To check for this issue, go to yourdomain.com/robots.txt.
Look for either of these two snippets of code:
Both of those tell Googlebot that they’re not allowed to crawl any pages on your web site.
To fix the issue, remove them. It’s that simple.
A crawl block in robots.txt may even be the offender if Google isn’t categorization one web content.
To check if this is the case, paste the URL into the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console.
Click on the Coverage block to reveal additional details, then hunt for the “Crawl allowed?
No: blocked by robots.txt” error.
This indicates that the page is blocked in robots.txt.
If that’s the case, recheck your robots.txt file for any “disallow” rules relating to the page or related subsection.
Remove where necessary.
2) Remove rogue noindex tags
Google won’t index pages if you tell them not to. This is useful for keeping some web pages private. There are two ways to do it:
Method 1: meta tag
Pages with either of these meta tags in their
<head> section won’t be indexed by Google:
This is a meta robots tag, and it tells search engines whether they can or can’t index the page.
SIDENOTE. The key part is the “noindex” value. If you see that, then the page is set to noindex.
To find all pages with a noindex meta hang on your web site, run a crawl with Ahrefs’ web site Audit.
Go to the Internal pages report. Look for “Noindex page” warnings.
Click through to see all affected pages. Remove the noindex meta tag from any pages where it doesn’t belong.
Method 2: X‐Robots‐Tag
Crawlers also respect the X‐Robots‐Tag HTTP response header. You can implement this using a server‐side scripting language like PHP, or in your .htaccess file, or by changing your server configuration.
The computer address review tool in Search Console tells you whether or not Google is blocked from creep a page due to this header.
Just enter your computer address, then rummage around for the “Indexing allowed?
No: ‘noindex’ detected in ‘X‐Robots‐Tag’ http header”
If you would like to see for this issue across your website, run a kip down Ahrefs’ website Audit tool, then use the “Robots data in communications protocol header” filter within the
Tell your developer to exclude pages you want indexing from returning this header.
Recommended reading: Using the X‐Robots‐Tag HTTP Header Specifications in SEO: Tips and Tricks
3) Include the page in your sitemap
A website map tells Google that pages on your site are vital, and that isn’t.
It may also give some guidance on how often they should be re‐crawled.
Google should be able to find pages on your website regardless of whether they’re in your sitemap, but it’s still good practice to include them. After all, there’s no point making Google’s life difficult.
To check if a page is in your sitemap, use the URL inspection tool in Search Console. If you see the “URL is not on Google” error and “Sitemap: N/A,” then it isn’t in your sitemap or indexed.
Not using Search Console? Head to your sitemap URL—usually, yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml—and search for the page.
Or, if you would like to search out all the crawlable and indexable pages that aren’t in your sitemap, run a crawl in Ahrefs’ Site Audit.
Go to Data Explorer and apply these filters:
These pages ought to be in your sitemap, thus add them.
Once done, let Google know that you’ve updated your sitemap by pinging this URL:
Replace that last part with your sitemap URL. You should then see something like this:
That should speed up Google’s indexing of the page.
4) Remove rogue canonical tags
A canonical tag tells Google that is that the most popular version of a page.
It looks something like this:
Most pages either have no canonical tag, or what’s called a self‐referencing canonical tag. That tells Google the page itself is the preferred and probably the only version. In other words, you want this page to be indexed.
But if your page has a rogue canonical tag, then it could be telling Google about a preferred version of this page that doesn’t exist. In which case, your page won’t get indexed.
To check for a canonical, use Google’s URL inspection tool. You’ll see an “Alternate page with canonical tag” warning if the canonical points to another page.
If this shouldn’t be there, and you want to index the page, remove the canonical tag.
Canonical tags aren’t always bad. Most pages with these tags will have them for a reason. If you see that your page has a canonical set, then check the canonical page. If this is indeed the preferred version of the page, and there’s no need to index the page in question as well, then the canonical tag should stay.
If you wish a fast thanks to realizing rapscallion canonical tags across your entire website, run a crawl in Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool.
Go to the Data Explorer. Use these settings:
This looks for pages in your sitemap with non‐self‐referencing canonical tags.
Because you virtually definitely need to index the pages in your sitemap, you ought to investigate and if this filter returns any results.
It’s highly likely that these pages either have a rogue canonical or shouldn’t be in your sitemap in the first place.
5) Check that the page isn’t orphaned
Orphan pages are those without internal links pointing to them.
Because Google discovers new content by crawling the web, they’re unable to discover orphan pages through that process. Website visitors won’t be able to find them either.
To check for orphan pages, crawl your site with Ahrefs’ Site Audit.
Next, check the Incoming links report for “Orphan page (has no incoming internal links)” errors:
This shows all pages that are both indexable and present in your sitemap, yet have no internal links pointing to them.
This process only works when two things are true:
All the pages you want indexing are in your sitemaps
You checked the box to use the pages in your sitemaps as beginning points for the crawl once putting in place the project in Ahrefs’ website Audit.
Not confident that all the pages you want to be indexed are in your sitemap? Try this:
Download a full list of pages on your site (via your CMS)
Crawl your web site (using a tool like Ahrefs’ website Audit)
Cross‐reference the two lists of URLs
Any URLs not found throughout the crawl area unit orphan pages.
You can fix orphan pages in one of two ways:
If the page is unimportant, delete it and remove from your sitemap.
If the page is very important, incorporate it into the interior link structure of your web site.
6) Fix nofollow internal links
Nofollow links are links with a rel=“nofollow” tag. They prevent the transfer of PageRank to the destination URL. Google also doesn’t crawl nofollow links.
Here’s what Google says about the matter:
Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web.
However, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow, or if the URLs are submitted to Google in a Sitemap.
In short, you must ensure that each one internal links to indexable pages square measure followed.
To do this, use Ahrefs’ web site} Audit tool to crawl your site.
Check the Incoming links report for indexable pages with “Page has nofollow incoming internal links only” errors:
Remove the nofollow tag from these internal links, assumptive that you just wish Google to index the page.
If not, either delete the page or noindex it.
Recommended reading: What Is a Nofollow Link? Everything You Need to Know (No Jargon!)
7) Add “powerful” internal links
Google discovers new content by crawling your website. If you neglect to internally link to the page in question then they may not be able to find it.
One easy solution to this problem is to add some internal links to the page.
You will do this from the other online page that Google can crawl and index.
However, if you want Google to index the page as fast as possible, it makes sense to do so from one of your more “powerful” pages.
Because Google is probably going to recrawl such pages quicker than lower pages.
To do this, head over to Ahrefs’ web site individual, enter your domain, then visit the Best by links report.
This shows all the pages on your web site sorted by uniform resource locator Rating (UR).
In other words, it shows the most authoritative pages first.
Skim this list and look for relevant pages from which to add internal links to the page in question.
Paste the page from that you side the inner link into Google’s uniform resource locator review tool.
Hit the “Request indexing” button to let Google apprehend that one thing on the page has modified which they ought to recrawl it as shortly as doable.
This may speed up the process of them discovering the internal link and consequently, the page you want indexing.
8) Make sure the page is valuable and unique
Google is unlikely to index low‐quality pages as a result of they hold no worth for its users.
Here’s what Google’s John Mueller said about indexing in 2018:
He implies that if you would like Google to index your web site or web content, it needs to be “awesome and inspiring.”
If you’ve ruled out technical issues for the lack of indexing, then a lack of value could be the culprit. For that reason, it’s worth reviewing the page with fresh eyes and asking yourself: Is this page genuinely valuable? Would a user find value in this page if they clicked on it from the search results?
If the answer is no to either of those questions, then you need to improve your content.
You can realize a lot of doubtless low‐quality pages that aren’t indexed victimisation Ahrefs’ web site Audit tool and address Profiler.
To do that, attend information individually in Ahrefs’ web site Audit and use these settings:
This will come “thin” pages that are indexable and presently get no organic traffic.
In other words, there’s a decent chance they aren’t indexed.
Export the report, then paste all the address into URL Profiler and run a Google regulation check.
It’s recommended to use proxies if you’re doing this for lots of pages (i.e., over 100). Otherwise, you run the risk of your IP getting banned by Google. If you can’t do that, then another alternative is to search Google for a “free bulk Google indexation checker.” There are a few of these tools around, but most of them are limited to <25 pages at a time.
Check any non‐indexed pages for quality issues. Improve where necessary, then request reindexing in Google Search Console.
You should also aim to fix issues with duplicate content. Google is unlikely to index duplicate or near‐duplicate pages. Use the Content quality report in Site Audit to check for these issues.
9) Remove low‐quality pages (to optimize “crawl budget”)
Having too several low‐quality pages on your web site serves solely to waste crawl budget.
Here’s what Google says on the matter:
Wasting server resources on [low‐value‐add pages] will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.
Think of it like a teacher grading essays, one of which is yours. If they have ten essays to grade, they’re going to get to yours quite quickly. If they have a hundred, it’ll take them a bit longer. If they have thousands, their workload is too high, and they may never get around to grading your essay.
Google will state that “crawl budget […] isn’t one thing most publishers have to be compelled to worry concerning,” and that “if a site has fewer than a few thousand URLs, most of
the time it will be crawled efficiently.”
Still, removing low‐quality pages from your website is never a bad thing.
It will solely have a positive result on a crawl budget.
You can use our content audit template to find potentially low‐quality and irrelevant pages that can be deleted.
10) Build high‐quality backlinks
Backlinks tell Google that an internet page is vital.
After all, if someone is linking to it, then it must hold some value. These are pages that Google wants to index.
For full transparency, Google doesn’t solely index websites with backlinks.
There are plenty (billions) of indexed pages with no backlinks. However, because Google sees pages with high‐quality links as more important, they’re likely to crawl—and re-crawl—such pages faster than those without. That leads to faster indexing.
We have plenty of resources on building high‐quality backlinks on the blog.
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