The Google Index – New Webmaster Tools Feature Reveals Which of Your Pages Are Indexed

A widely asked question from webmasters for several years has often revolved around the notorious Google index and their sites placing within it. Is my site included? Has it been removed? Has that new page been indexed yet? What about that other one?

Fortunately for everyone, last month Google announced its attempts to answer some of these questions by publishing a new feature to its webmaster tools.

Found under the Health section of your webmaster tools account, the new Index Status report is able to tell you exactly how many pages it has included in its index.

Initially you’ll be given a graph showing the total number of URLs from your site that has been added to Google’s index during the last year. Most sites will see a steady increase in the number indexed over time.

Under the advanced tab you are given access to far more useful information. Not only are you given the total number of pages indexed but also the total pages crawled, the pages crawled but not indexed and the attempted page crawls which were blocked.

It is broken down as so:

Total Indexed – the total number of URLs from the site added to the Google Index.
Ever Crawled – the cumulative total number of URLs on your site which Google has ever accessed.
Not Selected – URLs which Google have chosen not to include in their index. This is often due to the URLs redirecting to other pages or containing content which is significantly similar to other pages.
Blocked by Robots – URLs which Google have attempted to crawl but were denied access due to being blocked within the site’s robots.txt file.

It is important that you note that the figures provided are all totals. In that the figure for that particularly day meant that at that point in time, those number of pages are indexed or have been crawled. The figure doesn’t suggest that number of pages were indexed that day. This is important for older sites with a large number of pages. Those sites may experience significantly large differences between the number of pages crawled and the number of pages indexed.

But what if your graph doesn’t look like those above. What if your graph is showing spikes and valleys? Whilst a spiking and dropping graph would be the first indicator of possible indexation problems, the important thing to do is assess how and when the graph spikes.

Any variations in the charts could well be easily explained based on changes you have made to your site.

Changing your URL structure, setting up a high number of redirects or canonical URLs could well see a rise in the “Not Selected” count as well as a spike and drop with your total indexed count. Adding lots of new content to your site which is getting initially indexed will also cause variation in the charts.

It is important to assess any variations and see if there are legitimate causes behind these changes. If you have no clear idea as to why these counts may change then that is a fairly clear indication that there are technical issues with your site which need addressed.

The most useful function of the new feature is to allow webmasters to identify trends and discover whether Google is indexing their content. If Google is shown to be having difficulty indexing the site correctly this can be the first indicator that the site is having technical issues with canonicalization, duplicate content or other elements of your sites structure.

Although only once Google reveals exactly which pages are indexed or not will this tool be able to fully solve any indexation problems.

SEO Tips: 10 SEO Terms You Should Know About

What is a backlink? What is 404 error? What’s the difference between 301 & 302 redirect?… If you are a business that delegated the SEO activities to an SEO agency, then you have definitely asked about, or maybe checked on Google, the meaning of some of these terms. Well, as an SEO company, we were approached by several of our clients in order to clarify some of the “technical” words used in our reports and recommendations.

For this, we decided to make it easier on everyone by creating a not-so-technical guide for 10 SEO terms everyone should know about.

Let’s start..

1. 301 vs 302 redirect: 301 redirect is a permanent redirect of a page, stating that it no longer exists and that it has been moved to another location, to another URL. A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect, which informs search engines that the page, for a reason or another, does not currently exist but will be back later on. Asking yourself what is the difference in terms of impact? Well, we advise you to always use the 301 redirect for a simple reason: it is more SEO friendly than the 302 redirect.

2. 404 not found error: When you or your website’s visitors see this error, it means that the page no longer exists, and hasn’t been transferred to another page either. In another term, neither a 301 nor a 302 redirect has been used. If the page removed doesn’t have another related page to redirect to, use one of these solutions: 1) create a 301 redirect to the homepage, 2) build a creative 404 page giving the option for the visitors to choose where to go.

3. Alt text: It’s a description of an image allowing visitors facing visual issues to understand what the picture is about. While this seems not really important, it is advised that every image on a site has an alt text, not only for visitors, but for search engines also. It helps them know what the image is about in order to show it in search queries.

4. Anchor text: It’s the text used on a page that links to another page. Generally, an anchor text is recognizable by being dark blue and underlined. It helps both search engines and visitors understand the destination page once clicking on the anchor text.

5. Canonical URL: It’s a tag that tells search engines which is the original URL of the page, in case of duplicate content. Normally, having duplicate content harms SEO, however, in some cases, it’s not really an issue. For example, in an ecommerce website, the same product can be accessed through different URLs, so here comes the role of the canonical URL to set things straight and point out the original one.

6. Backlinks: These are links present on other websites that lead to yours. This is one of the most important SEO practices and is part of the off-page optimization of a website. The number of backlinks to your website reveals its popularity. However, be careful, as backlinks acquired in an unethical way can actually harm your website ranking instead of benefiting it.

7. Black hat: Talking about unethical, black hat refers to improper techniques used to empower the ranking of a website. The most common tactics considered black hat by search engines are spamming and keyword stuffing.

8. Google Panda: It seems that Google loves animals for naming their algorithm updates accordingly. Panda is an update launched in 2011 that favors high-quality content over low-quality content. In other terms, websites with high-quality content have a better chance to appear before websites with low-quality content on search results.

9. Google Penguin: Even though penguins are cute and harmless animals, Google Penguin can hurt your website badly. It’s also a Google algorithm update, introduced a year after the Panda update, that has the role to punish websites with backlinks acquired with black hat techniques.

10. Google Hummingbird: Not sure if Google is still a search engine or it turned into a zoo. Google Hummingbird is another algorithm update introduced in 2013, that focuses on understanding the real purpose and the exact information needed behind a search query.

These 10 terms give you a better understanding of SEO jargon and can help you improve your website’s results. However, this is only a basic guide, and, as you know by now, SEO is way more than just that. Let us know whenever you encounter a recurrent term that isn’t in this list, and if found appropriate, we will add it.