15 Common Google Indexing Issues & How to Fix Them

by | Last updated Apr 23, 2024 | SEO

Read Time: 7 min read

Summary: TL;DR: If Google isn't indexing your website, it could be due to issues like being too new, lacking a domain name, recent redesigns, missing sitemaps, poor site structure, orphan pages, or not being mobile-friendly. Low-quality content, noindex tags, redirect loops, exceeded crawl budgets, suspicious code, incorrect canonical tags, or Google penalties can also hinder indexing. To fix this, focus on improving site structure, mobile-friendliness, ADA compliance, content quality, and removing barriers like noindex tags or redirect loops. Ensuring proper canonical tags, avoiding penalties, and maintaining clean code are crucial for successful indexing. For expert help in improving your website's visibility, consider services like web design, SEO, and content marketing from Hurrdat Marketing.

Trying to fix your website indexing problems? There are a number of issues that prevent search engines from indexing your site. After confirming with Google Search Console’s Index Coverage Report that Google is not indexing your website, review this list of 15 common reasons why Google may not be indexing.

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Website Is Too New

Sometimes, sites without issues may not be crawled by Google if they just went live. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with your website—Google just needs time to crawl and index your webpages. Unfortunately, the amount of time it takes for Google to crawl websites can vary significantly, from a few hours to a few weeks. In the meantime, the best solution is to keep adding and maintaining content on your website. This way, by the time Google indexes your website, you’ll have established your brand as a reliable, relevant source—which is important in achieving a higher search engine rank and building trust with your audience.

No Domain Name

If your website goes live without a domain name, it will only be accessible through its IP address. Therefore, Google won’t be able to find and index it. If you don’t have a domain name, the IP name will show up in the address bar in its place. To resolve this issue, check that your URL is set up correctly in WordPress or whatever hosting website you use. To direct traffic away from the IP version of your website, you may need to set up 301 redirects so searchers are taken to the correct version with your domain name.

Recent Web Redesign

After redesigning, rebranding, or otherwise altering your website in a significant way, you may find that Google hasn’t recrawled your website. If you want to guarantee that your website changes will be reflected in your search engine performance, you need to manually submit a recrawl request via Google Search Console. Submitting a recrawl request is especially helpful if you’ve recently made changes to your website to improve its crawlability. First, make sure your site follows the proper guidelines. Then, inspect the URL. And finally, select “request indexing.” This will prompt Google to recrawl your website and index its pages so that they can appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Missing Sitemap

A sitemap is a structured list of everything on your website—pages, videos, files, and the relationships between all content. This blueprint provides valuable information that helps Google crawl and index each of your pages, so if you don’t have it, Google cannot efficiently crawl your website. When creating this file, use an XML sitemap instead of an HTML one, since the former is specifically geared toward search engine performance. Once you’ve created your sitemap, you can either manually submit it to Google through Search Console or include it in your robots.txt file, a plugin that tells Google which URLs to crawl and index on your site.

Poor Site Structure

When indexing, Google prioritizes websites that offer a good user experience because the search engine wants to serve up helpful and relevant sources for its users’ queries. This means websites that are difficult for users to navigate may be missed by bots. Poor site structure can also hinder Google’s ability to crawl your pages. To fix this and encourage Google to index your website, make sure you’re using a clear website structure and intuitive linking.

Ross Allen, Hurrdat’s former SEO Director and current Data Science Director, suggests,

“A quick win to help with site structure would be adding in breadcrumbs if they are not already there. Website breadcrumbs not only help users navigate the site but they also introduce additional internal linking opportunities. Both of these things send positive signals to search engines and can directly and indirectly help with ranking.”

Orphan Pages

Pages on your website that aren’t connected to the rest of the site—that is, orphan pages—can’t be crawled by Google. You can remedy orphan pages by first identifying them and then connecting them to the rest of your website using internal links. If an orphan page contains thin content, duplicate content, could be mistaken by Google as a doorway page, or otherwise doesn’t offer value to users, you can remove the orphaned page altogether. If you do this, add a 301 redirect to a relevant URL in case the orphaned page is backlinked.

Not Mobile-Friendly

Currently, more than half of all online searches are made from a mobile device, which is why Google prioritizes mobile-friendliness when crawling websites. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, Google likely won’t index it. You can make your site more mobile-friendly by using adaptable design, compressing images, and improving load times. Getting rid of pop-ups and keeping finger reach in mind can also help.

Not ADA Compliant

Google checks for accessibility when crawling websites, so websites that do not follow ADA compliance may not be indexed. Some common accessibility issues include a lack of alt text, unreadable text, and the inability for users to navigate using keyboard-only commands. You can check if your existing website is ADA compliant with online tools. If necessary, you can even make changes to the design of your website for ADA compliance, which should help Google index your website faster.

Low-Quality Content

Google wants to provide unique, accurate, and up-to-date search results to users, so if your webpage content is thin, scraped, or utilizes keyword stuffing, it can hurt your chances of Google indexing your website. To fix this issue, make sure your website is designed with users in mind, provides good information with relevant keywords, and that your content is otherwise aligned with the Webmaster Guidelines.

Noindex Tag or Header Is Blocking Googlebot

Sometimes, the reason Google isn’t indexing your site is as simple as a single line of code. If your robots.txt file contains the code “User-agent: *Disallow: /” or if you’ve discouraged search engines from indexing your pages in your settings, then you’re blocking Google’s crawler bot. Until “noindex” is removed and your page permissions allow search engine visibility, Google won’t be able to crawl and index your site.

Redirect Loops

Redirect loops—that is, redirects that redirect back to themselves—will make it impossible for Google to index your pages correctly since the bots get stuck in these loops and can’t continue crawling your site. To check for this issue, open your .htaccess file or the HTML sources for your website and look for unintentional or incorrect redirects. Using the wrong kind of redirect can also affect Googlebot’s ability to crawl your website. 301 redirects should be used for pages that have moved permanently, while 302 redirects should be used for pages that have only moved temporarily.

Exceeded Crawl Budget

Every website has a designated crawl budget, which is a numerical limit on how many pages Googlebot will crawl on your website. You can check your website’s specific crawl limit by visiting the Crawl Stats Report on Google Search Console. If you have already hit your limit, Google won’t index new pages on your site. This issue usually only comes into play for especially large websites. You can remedy the issue by consolidating pages after a website audit or adding code that instructs Google not to crawl certain pages on your website.

Or, Allen suggests,

“A better solution than consolidating and noindexing pages would be to set priority levels in XML sitemaps and removing any unnecessary URLs from these files. XML sitemaps essentially act as a roadmap for search engines to follow and should contain the most important pages first, set to priority levels. Therefore, the most important pages would get crawled first before exceeding any crawl budget limitations.”

Suspicious or Hard-to-Read Code

Your website code should be easily accessible for Google and stay consistent across your raw and rendered HTML. Cloaking or hiding text and links are red flags that can prevent Google from indexing your website. Make sure you aren’t blocking bots from crawling your JavaScript and CSS files, as this can appear suspicious to Google. Relying too heavily on JavaScript may also prevent Google from indexing your site. It takes additional steps for bots to interpret JavaScript, which could cause your site to burn through its crawl budget faster. Eliminating suspicious or hard-to-read code from your website helps Google crawl and index it.

Incorrect Canonical Tags

Canonical tags should be used when your site has more than one URL that displays similar or identical content. But if you aren’t telling Google which URL you prefer the search engine to index, Google will choose for you, which could cause the wrong version to get indexed. Determine if you have canonical issues by checking your URLs manually or use site audit features available through companies like Ahrefs and Semrush.

Received a Google Penalty

If you can’t identify a reason why Google isn’t indexing your website based on factors like its content, code, or usability, check if you received a penalty. Factors like unnatural links, malicious webpages, sneaky redirects, and more can lead to Google penalties. To review your penalties, log in to Google Search Console. Next, navigate to the “Security & Manual Actions” tab. There, you can see any penalties submitted against your website and find the necessary steps to correct them. To avoid future penalties, follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Need help getting your website found in search engine results pages? Hurrdat Marketing offers web design, search engine optimization, and content marketing services to help you build an optimized web presence. Contact us today to learn more!

Ross Allen

Ross Allen

Expert Contributor

Ross Allen is a man of diverse interests, including craft beer, golf, and spending quality time with his wife. However, his true passion lies in search engine optimization (SEO), a field he excels in as the SEO Director at Hurrdat Marketing, where he works with all types of clients from small-to-medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies. In this role, Ross leverages his expertise to assess client needs, develop SEO strategies, manage projects, and support his team. He also handles analytics and reporting, delivering comprehensive reports to both clients and internal brands.

Originally from Leicester, England, Ross started working with computers after a gap year, eventually pursuing a full-time education in multimedia computing at De Montfort University. His introduction to SEO at a language travel agency marked the beginning of a fulfilling career.

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