We’ve covered Google Search Console in previous posts, and anyone running a website who is concerned about Google traffic to their site should have this tool set up for their property. One of the main reports you can view within the new Console is Index Coverage Status.
This report should be reviewed to see which of your webpages have been indexed, and how to fix pages that could not be indexed for whatever reason. A bar chart is shown, where the different issues can be selected and this then shows the total number of URLs in a particular status (valid, error, and so on) as known by Google.
The ideal situation is for website owners to see a gradually increasing count of valid indexed pages as the site grows and Google’s spider (bot) visits and indexes the pages. However, if there is an increase, or spike in indexing errors, this might be caused by a change in the site’s template that introduces a new error, or you might have submitted a sitemap that includes URLs that are blocked to crawling (for example, by robots.txt or noindex, or a login requirement).
If you see a drop in total indexed pages without corresponding errors, this might mean that you are blocking access to your existing pages (via robots.txt, ‘noindex’, or requiring auth). If you have a significant number of pages that are not indexed and you think they should be, look at excluded URLs for possible reasons and see what action may need to be taken to resolve the issues.
Google usually discovers URLs from a website by following links from previously crawled pages or from submitted sitemaps. Sometimes these links may be wrong (and can lead to 404 errors on your site) or sometimes the page may have disappeared through the natural development of the site. However, once Google has heard of a URL it will continue to try to crawl it for a while.
The top level report shows the index status of all pages that Google has attempted to crawl on your site, grouped by status and reason, with each page having one of the following general status classes:
* Error: The page has not been indexed and the specific error type description is listed below the chart, with suggestions on how to fix the error. These should be the first priority if the pages should be appearing in the search results.
* Warning: The page is indexed, or was until recently, but has an issue that you should be aware of.
* Excluded: The page is not included in the index for reasons that you typically cannot affect. The page might be in an intermediate stage of the indexing process, or is deliberately excluded by you (for example by a noindex directive) and is therefore behaving as expected.
* Valid: The page was indexed.
Each status (valid, warning, error, excluded) can have a specific reason. Data in the table is grouped by reason; each row can describe one or more URLs. You can also read Google’s help pages to learn more about the different status type description, and suggestions on how to handle it.
This report can throw up issues that need some technical input and changes to resolve the potential problems, and your web developer may need to get involved with this as well. However, Google’s reports make it easy for website owners to understand when issues occur and the scale of the possible problem, which may then be resolved to improve the ways that Google interacts with a website.
If you’d like to know more about these reports and checking your website in the Search Console account, please contact us for help.