Is your content not getting indexed by Google? Here's what I recommend.
Last Update: Sep 24, 2023
I've seen posts and questions regarding Google indexing throughout WA and the SEO world in general and have a lot of personal experience with this topic/problem.
With regards to that, one of my main blogs, a nature site over a year ago had this issue. Numerous blog posts were not getting indexed despite:
- The site being over a year old (meaning it's gone past the Google sandbox).
- Having most of it's blog posts indexed and ranked and over the several months that this issue took place.
I was experimenting a lot and getting help from other members like Magistudios and testing out different ways to "force" the index to happen. Today this problem happens way less frequently but I thought I'd compile a list of suggestions on what I've seen work (most of the time).
To start, know that indexing and ranking are 2 different, yet consecutive things that occur in the SEO process, meaning:
- Your publish new content targeting a keyword/s.
- That content gets indexed (hopefully)
- Then the ranking process begins which ultimately and hopefully brings visitors to your site for the target keyword/s.
Here's what you need to know about that process:
The moment from which your newly published content gets indexed varies a ton on many factors and for most new sites (under 6 months), that can take days/weeks to see, whereas more authority type websites (websites older than 6 months that already have a bunch of indexed and ranked content bringing in visitors) can see it happen in under a week, day or even in a few hours. This context is important for what I want to suggest so make sure you read that part!
Next, I'm going to separate the process of indexing none indexed posts into levels where you have basic suggestions on how to make it happen, to intermediate and then advanced methods. Typically you'll want to exhaust the basic suggestions first before moving onto the intermediate, then advanced ones.
Basic ways to get your content indexed (this is no particular order):
- If your site is under 6 months, just wait it out (this usually solves most indexing problems). Remember new content, on a NEW site (under 6 months typically) may take days/weeks to make it happen, so be patient.
- Make sure to internally link throughout your posts and site, especially from content that is already indexed to content that is NOT already indexed. Every new piece of content I make has at least 5 or more internal links to other posts on my website (it's also relevant internal linking). And I will also send more internal links as I add new content to posts that need a "bump" in indexing and rankings (organically of course, I don't advise internally link spamming, that's a no-no).
- Provide at least 1 external link to an authority website in each post.
- Add more images to your posts that are not just relevant but with their title (alt tag) being the keyword you are looking to target. Just make sure you are not using the same exact keyword over and over if it's multiple images. You can totally label one image with your main target keyword, and then another with the same exact keyword, but in the 2nd instance just add more to it (Ex: best places to see in maine, best places to see in maine new image). Here's a class on this.
These are basic SEO set ups I recommend and we teach you that here in WA.
Intermediate ways to get your content indexed (again, this is no particular order):
- Use the Google search console tool and URL inspect the none indexed post. If this doesn't lead to indexing, do not keep URL inspecting and check if you have the basic methods above, or other methods below set up. Sometimes you just need to wait if the first URL inspection doesn't lead to indexing.
- Resubmit your site map and make sure it's actually working (Google will let you know if it's been successfully added). Know that the more your site grows, the more often Google will inspect your site map regularly so you don't need to URL inspect every new URL you create (in fact only use that once per URL for situations where specific content just isn't getting indexed after it's been published for weeks).
- Check that your post title is good, actually targets your main keyword and that your meta description (first paragraph) also targets it. If you have a permalink that is not the exact thing as your title, don't worry about it (do not change your permalink).
Advanced ways to get your content indexed (once again, this is no particular order):
- Make an article on Medium.com on the same topic as your post that isn't indexed and link to it (here's a class on that).
- Make a YouTube video on the same topic as your post and link to the post that isn't indexed.
- Make a Pinterest Pin and link to the none indexed post too.
- Share the URL on your social media (or if you have a fan page).
- Change the title of the post if it's just not being indexed after months. For example if my target keyword is: Super hike Utah and my title is What You Need to Know About The Super Hike in Utah and it's not being indexed after weeks and months, then I'd change the title to something like: Super Hike Utah: What You Need to Know. Notice how I'm literally using the exact keyword in that title.
- If your content is SUPER long (3,000+ words) and it's not getting indexed, I would consider narrowing down the word count and keeping it super relevant, simple and high quality.
- Add more relevant keywords WITHIN the post that isn't getting indexed and you can pick up ideas of that on Google itself. Simply type in the keyword you are looking to target and see what suggestions Google comes up with. Add those keywords (the suggestions) within your content and write about them (don't go crazy with this, just a few work) but what you're doing here is targeting more long tailed keywords people ask about and by writing content on that sub topic, you are more likely to get it indexed.
Note: The above suggestions also work for boosting rankings too.
Case study: One of my recent articles on Death Valley National Park was NOT getting indexed for weeks even though the authority of my website is high. Here's some things I originally tried (that didn't work):
- URL inspecting didn't work.
- Internally linking more to this post didn't work.
- Socially sharing didn't work.
- Changing the title didn't work.
But here's what I think may have finally made it break through to getting indexed:
It originally had 21 things to do on that list (4,000 words). I shortened it to 7 and removed parts of the content that I felt were just not good. It became simpler to read and just better. Now it's under 2,000 words.
- I made a Medium.com article on it.
- I shared this article on my Facebook Fan Page and ran an ad to it (it got a lot of clicks) and that may have helped the process so Google could see people reading the article.
- I just waited it out after doing the above things. Now it's actually picking up (slowly, but better than before):
Now another strong argument one could make is that I could have just waited it out and eventually it would index. It's even possible that the strategies I mentioned may not have even impacted the index happening, but they are still valid things to do in a situation where my content isn't getting indexed after weeks.
While there are a lot of things I've listed above for ways to get your content indexed, make sure to just stick to the basics and write good quality content targeting keywords with low competition. Other than this, the other basics of internal/external linking and imagery + giving your site/posts time to "marinate" in Google is ultimately what leads to success. In other words, do the basics, let Google take care of the rest and be patient (and productive by making new content in the meantime).
Keep in mind that the above strategies are NOT a 100% guarantee that your content will get indexed. Google decides what it likes and doesn't and you shouldn't dwell so much on a single or even a few posts not getting indexed. If the majority of your content is getting indexed (eventually), then you're on the right track.
Just make sure not to go crazy overanalyzing why a single post isn't being indexed and then spend who knows how long trying to figure it out while you could have been finding more keywords/content to create and growing your site.
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