Indexing of web pages by search engines is essential to make it count for search rankings. Search engine crawlers are continuously scanning the internet for fresh content, and as soon as they find it, they lap upon it for indexing. All pages of a website need proper indexing for ranking in search results. This is the fundamental requirement for SEO performance that depends on the high visibility of websites.
Indexing by search engines ensures website visibility, and it is essential because it can make or break SEO campaigns. To know whether search engines have indexed the web pages you can check the overall status of indexation or can go the Google Search Console and check the status on XML sitemap submissions. Another way is to figure it out from the site: operator.
If Google does not index your web pages, it could be that the pages are difficult to crawl and hence left out. Another possibility is that the pages are of low quality hence left out from indexing. If you observe a reduction in the number of indexed pages, it could be that you are producing irrelevant content, there might be problems that prevent Google from crawling the pages, or Google penalty hits your website. The experts at Kotton Grammer Media, an SEO Company, advice its clients that it is essential to find out the reasons behind poor indexing so that you can fix the problem and get back the SEO campaign on its tracks. Keep reading to know how you could handle the problem to diagnose it correctly.
Check if the pages are loading properly
Continuous visibility of websites is vital to ensure that the search engine crawlers do not ever miss the web pages. Since there is no fixed time for crawling sites, it must remain open to crawling all the time. Page loading is an essential factor that contributes to high visibility. The problem of visibility can happen if the domain registration has expired and there was a delay in updating.
If the website is down for some time due to server issues, there are chances that search spiders would skip the pages and it does not appear in indexing. Take up the issue with the host to ensure that there is no downtime in case the problem originates from their end.
Make sure that 200 HTTP Header Status of all web pages are correct. For doing it, you have to use a tool that helps to check the HTTP Header Status. The header status should always show 200 although you might encounter some errors initiated by 3xx, 4xx and 5xx which are all quite bad for URLs in the context of indexation, except for 301.
Identify URL changes that might have occurred
It might happen that there have been some changes in server setting, changes could happen to back-end programming, and even there might be a switch over from one CMS to another. In all these cases the domain and folder undergo changes that can ultimately modify the URLs of the website. Search engines being familiar with the old URLs would give the new URLs a miss if there is no proper arrangement for redirecting pages. As a result, many pages of the website would automatically become de-indexed.
If you ever make such changes or be aware of it, you should ensure that you can access an old version of the website somewhere on the internet. Pick up all the old URLs that have undergone changes and create a map for proper 301 redirects that could lead the spiders to the corresponding new URLs.
Fixing duplicate content-related issues
It is not surprising that you might have faced some issues related to duplicate content and taken suitable action to fix it. Although the problem disappears, you face some new problems that affect the indexed URLs. The process of fixing duplicate content could entail the use of 301 redirects, canonical tags, and no index Meta tags. It might even hinder the functioning of robots.txt.
All these could lead to decrease in the number of indexed URLs. However, since you are eradicating duplicate content which is good for SEO performance, this is an instance when you should welcome the reduction of indexed pages as it contained duplicate content which you have got rid of.
You need not try to overturn the good done but must be sure that the cause of the reduction in indexed pages is truly on account of duplicate content.
Timed out pages can be a problem
When viewers are engaged on your website but suddenly find some pages timed out it could be a very bad experience for them and harm the SEO prospects. Pages can timeout if there are bandwidth restrictions on the server that plays host to your website. It would require a server upgrade to overcome the problem that would ensure uninterrupted viewing of web pages, but it would entail additional cost. The problem of timed out pages can also happen due to memory limitation or some hardware issues that needs rectification. Overcrowding of sites can also lead to timed out pages as it is a safety measure to prevent DDOS attacks, but it can harm the SEO prospects of the website. Timed out pages can have a negative effect on crawling as the search spiders cannot crawl the pages properly.
Search engine spiders see a different view of the website
If the CMS used for building websites is not enough to search engine friendly, then it might happen that website offers different views of the same pages to viewers and search engines. This can also happen in case your website is hacked. Hackers, in an attempt to cloak the 301 redirects to their site or promote their hidden links might show a different page view to Google. Check if the problem afflicts you by using the fetch and render feature of Google Console.
The decrease in indexed pages affects SEO performance negatively with the only exception if it happens to cleanse the website of poor quality content or duplicate content.