Google Says Site: Query Does Not Show All Indexed Pages
Google’s John Mueller recently told Google SEO consultants that a site: query does not give a comprehensive collection of all the pages of a website. Instead, he advised them to use a Google SEO tool to get the job done.
Mueller addressed this topic in the latest instalment of YouTube’s Ask Googlebot video series. A person told Mueller that they checked all of their indexed URLs individually by using a site: search. The result showed that the total amount of indexed links was 180. However, when they check in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), it only shows 28 links. The SEO asked Mueller the reason for the inaccurate result.
At first glance, this may seem weird. However, Mueller says it is a regular occurrence in SEO.
A site: query is a command that one can use to tell Google to return results from one specific domain. For instance, if they wanted to see pages from a particular website, they would type “site:example.com” in Google’s search bar.
Online businesses and site owners can also take site: queries a step further by placing a keyword in front of the site: command. Doing so will tell Google to return results from one domain that are relevant to the key phrase in the site: search.
For instance, if a searcher wants to find content about Core Web Vitals from the same website, they should type in “core web vitals site:example.com” into Google.
Although this is a helpful method to find specific pages from a website, Mueller said that SEOs should not use a site: search for diagnostics purposes. It is also not meant to be complete.
What a site: search only does is limit the search results to a particular website, so it is not a comprehensive collection of all the site’s pages. It is just the word site, a colon, and the site’s domain.
If a site owner knows they have 100 indexed pages on their website but only gets 50 indexed pages when they conduct a site: search, they do not need to be worried about it.
Since a site: query is not the most accurate approach to knowing the total number of indexed pages, Google SEO consultants need to look for a better method. For this task, Mueller recommends Google Search Console.
He said that Google Search Console is a free tool that allows site owners to get more information about how the search engine views their websites. The tool has an Index Coverage report that enables site owners to see how pages are shown in search and the number of indexed pages and unindexed ones – if any – plus the specific errors that prevent Google from indexing them.
In short, Mueller told the SEO community not to worry about the site: query and just use Search Console instead. Not only will it show the non-indexed pages, but it will also reveal any underlying issues, allowing site owners to fix them. They can also use the same report to re-submit the page for indexing.
How To Use The Index Coverage Report
The Index Coverage report consists of the following components: errors, valid with warnings, valid, and excluded.
Errors are the leading cause that prevents Google from indexing the pages. They could include URLs with the “noindex” directive, 404 errors, or server errors.
Valid with warnings, on the other hand, includes pages that may or may not appear in the search results depending on the issue. For instance, indexed pages that are blocked by robots.txt may appear in the valid with warnings section.
The valid section contains web pages that are eligible to appear in Google’s search results.
Lastly, the excluded section contains pages that were not indexed because of intentional action. These pages will not appear in Google’s search results.
By studying these error sections, one can find the most complicated issues since they are sorted by severity. After seeing the biggest issue on the site, online businesses and webmasters can immediately take action to solve the problem. They can start working on the big problems at the top of the list and work their way down.
Website owners can either fix the issues on their own or have a professional SEO agency take a look at them and make some changes to the code or the website. After fixing the problem, they can click on “Validate Fix” to prompt Google to validate the changes.
Checking The Index Coverage Report Regularly
Online businesses and site owners do not need to check the Index Coverage report daily because they will get email notifications whenever the tool detects a new indexing error. However, if an existing error worsens, Google will not notify them about the situation. So, SEOs should check the tool at least once in a while to ensure that everything is under control.
Benefits Of Using Search Console
Search Console is a free Google SEO tool that can help online businesses and site owners maintain, monitor, and troubleshoot their website in the search results. While signing up isn’t necessary to have one’s pages displayed on the SERPs, doing so has many advantages. The tool helps one understand and improve how the search engine views their site.
Here are some of the tools and reports that Search Console offers:
- Show the sites that link to their websites
- Troubleshoot for various issues, including mobile usability, AMP, and other search features
- Fix indexing problems and request Google to re-index new and updated content
- View the website’s traffic data; how it appears in Google Search, queries that show on the site, how often searchers click through for those queries, and so on
- Notifies site owners when Google encounters spam and indexing issues on the site
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