A Simple Guide To Search Engine Indexing Issues

Published: 28th May 2012
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Search engines work by crawling web pages through billions of different links. By following these links and crawling each and every accessible web page the search engine will then index these pages, also known as caching, so that users can then be ready to recall these pages when specific queries are entered into the search engine. This includes images, videos, news and many other different kinds of files. By using it's own cached versions allows for a faster searching experience.

When a person conducts a search the search engines will look for results that will be most relevant and important to the searchers query. Also, ranking the results in order of importance. Let's now look at the challenges that webmasters face in their goals of having their website and web pages indexed within the search engines. So that these can not only appear within the search engine results pages but also rank.

How To Detect Pages Indexed Pages

For webmasters or those working in the search engine optimisation field, indexation within the search engines is vital.

By simply entering the 'cache:' search operator along with your domain or web page. This will return Google's own snapshot of the page as it was last crawled and cached. By viewing the time this was conducted can help display if there are any problems. If pages have not been cached for quite a while then it would be worth exploring the potential barriers to the search engine crawlers.

Another effective and simple method of viewing the web pages indexed by Google is to type 'site:website' in to the search bar. This will show each and every page listed. It also has the added benefit of showing the pages that are considered duplicate and therefore within their supplemental index, not necessarily related to indexation issue but definitely something that may be related to duplication and should be looked at in detail.

Lastly, another simple and easy way to discover possible indexing problems is to view your Google Webmaster Tools. This can clearly display crawl errors issued by Google during the last time the website was crawled. Whether the problem lies with 404 errors or something else these can then be resolved. By checking this section of Webmaster Tools on a regular basis is vital, especially when changes are made to a website.

Possible Problems That Can Be Encountered

Let's begin looking at the problems that will in effect stop your website or individual pages from being indexed, the robots.txt file sites on the root of every domain, and clearly sets out a range of guidelines for the crawlers to follow. By inserting specific user agents into the text file can ask for specific folder level from being indexed. Therefore this is the first place to check to ensure no changes have been made to the text file, or many user agents have not been updated. In any instance where there is duplication by utilising the robots.txt it is simple to tell the search engine crawlers which pages to read and which pages to ignore, especial when dynamic URLs are being used.

The next step can be to ensure the latest and most up-to-date sitemap has been submitted to Google's Webmaster Tools.

Non-indexable content is another issue that many webmasters later come to realise is the problem for pages not being indexed. Let's look at the navigation this is key for search engines to access the website and is vital. When navigational elements are built in flash or a language the crawlers do not understand then these pages will become indexable, unless there are on-page contextual links. To improve indexing within the search engines it's vital that all navigational elements can be crawled and link to mid-level to deeper level pages.

Finally another common problem lies within the Meta tags. The robots meta tag can allow content to “INDEX”, “NOINDEX” or “NOFOLLOW”. This can tell search engine crawlers to index or not to index each page, giving much more flexibility over the robots.txt file. “NOFOLLOW” means that no links on this web page are to be followed, breaking the link path. These can be used in many different combinations where applicable, but must be used with care.

Whenever an indexing issue is discovered or if it becomes part of being pro-active in order to source problems before they occur and your end goal is to improve rankings within the search engine results pages, then it is highly recommended to seek an SEO company. Who can help assist and make many improvements both on-page and off-page. By using SEO, conversion optimisation and PPC there are many possibilities that exist to help improve rankings and to improve your online return-on-investment.

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