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You may think you’re doing everything right when it comes to your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). You may add blogs every week; you may do your keyword research and include highly searched terms in your content; you may have an adequate number of backlinks and internal links. Yet, even with all of these beneficial practices, there is no guarantee that you will appear on page one of Google. In fact, there is no guarantee that you will show up on Google at all.
So, why is that?
Well, there’s not a simple answer, as there are many factors that contribute to your rankability on search engines like Google. However, one potential (and often overlooked) reason is your website’s indexability.
Simply put, if your web pages are not indexed by Google, you will not rank on Google.
What Does Site Indexability Mean?
Indexability describes a search engine’s ability to analyze, collect, and store the data about your website on its index. Indexing this information makes your web pages available when an internet user enters a related query.
Search engines, like Google, aim to index all web pages, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. As of June 2021, there were over 1.86 billion websites online and trillions of individual web pages on those sites.
Google, as of 2016, had indexed over 130 trillion web pages (Google indexes web pages, not websites). While this is an enormous number, it is far from every page on the internet.
Because of this, it is left to you to do your part and help Google find, crawl, and index the pages on your website.
What Is Crawlability, and How Does It Differ From Indexability?
Crawlability and indexability go hand-in-hand, as you cannot have one without the other. However, these terms are not interchangeable, and your site must be crawlable before it can be indexable.
As we’ve discussed, the content on indexed sites has been collected and stored in an index database. But before that information can be stored, it has to be found. Crawlability is the search engine’s ability to find and examine the content on web pages.
Here, internet “spiders” (automated bots) scroll — or crawl — through your new and updated pages, looking at visible content and non-visible elements like alt tags, meta descriptions, and structured data in the code. From here, these spiders bring the information to Google’s servers, where it is stored based on topic, relevance, and authority.
What Is an Index Database?
Much like the index in a textbook, an index database is a grouped list of all the information collected on crawled pages. Every search engine will have its own index database.
Information from billions of web pages is stored in these databases; however, they do not represent every piece of information on the internet.
When you enter a search into Google, for instance, “breast augmentation in Beverly Hills,” you are not gaining access to every web page on the internet that relates to your search query. Instead, you will only see the pages that Google has previously indexed.
Therefore, if your site isn’t indexing on search engines, you have zero chance of ranking on that platform. It is also unlikely that your site will receive anything but direct traffic.
Google’s spiders are constantly crawling new pages and updating its database. Although there is a good chance the spiders will come across your web page naturally, there is no guarantee that they will and no time estimate of when they will.
Therefore, you need to help these spiders if you want to see an increase in organic traffic (traffic that comes to you via search engines). Considering that 65% percent of website traffic comes from organic searches, every minute that your content is not indexed is potential traffic lost.
The faster your web pages are indexed, the sooner they can compete.
Are My Web Pages Indexable?
How Can I Check if Google Can Index My Site?
Fortunately, there are several free and paid programs that run crawlability tests and allow you to see how well your web pages are being indexed.
Two of the most commonly used free programs include Google Search Console and Yoast SEO.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free program that monitors your site’s presence and authority on Google. Tools in this program inform you of any indexing issues and errors on your site so you can resolve them quickly.
This free WordPress plugin is essential for all WordPress-run sites. Much like Google Search Console, Yoast SEO monitors and informs you about any crawling or indexing errors.
How Can I Help Google Index My Website Pages?
Even the smallest indexing error can have serious consequences for your site’s ranking ability.
So, what can you do?
In addition to running indexability checks with the above programs, there are many ways you can ready your site for prompt index crawling.
1. Create a sitemap
Sitemaps help spiders understand where they can and cannot go on a website. It also informs spiders about how large your site is and where the most relevant information is. A properly laid out site map (in an XML format) can significantly cut the time needed to crawl your website.
Once you’ve created a sitemap, you must submit it to Google Search Console.
2. Have internal links
Internal links (hyperlinking) between your pages give spiders a specific path to navigate your website. They also demonstrate that your content is interrelated. The importance of this can not be overlooked or understated.
3. Update content regularly
Any page update (whether text, images, audio, or video) improves your site’s indexability. Google focuses more energy on indexing sites that are updated regularly.
Blogs are a great place for new content. Studies show that sites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages.
4. Watch out for duplicate content
Duplicate content confuses spiders. Spiders will not know where to place authority; therefore, both pages are likely to suffer.
5. Create a “robots.txt” file
This simple text file tells search engines which pages are allowed to index and which are not. You need to make sure search engines have permission to crawl your site. While this is a default setting, it never hurts to double check. (The “noindex” directive code is no longer supported in robots.txt files.)
Learn more about how to create a robots.txt file.
6. Update unsupported technology
Web technology is constantly updating and improving. Therefore, there are many outdated and unsupported technologies that are not crawlable.
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