One of the foundations of SEO is to gain organic traffic from search engines by using white-hat SEO methods. And to grow traffic organically, you’d first have to get your site and its pages on the Google Index.
Google Index is a humongous database where Google stores the pages/sites it’s visited. It then serves these pages in its search results using (really) complex search algorithms.
Indexing is quintessential as that’s how Google “notices” that you have a page and that it has certain information.
Google doehres this in two-fold:
- Crawling – Google visits all the pages on your site to learn about it.
- Indexing – All the visited pages are added to Google Index (and subsequently ranked).
If that doesn’t get you excited about Google Index, then have a look at why it is important to get your site indexed.
Importance of Google Index
Indexing is basically Google’s way of giving thumbs up to your site and its pages. Once this is done, Google will start displaying your site in its search results pages.
Crawling is dependant on many factors such as your page and domain ranks, links and backlinks, domain name, XML sitemap, etc.
Of all the pages in the first place in Google search results, only about 1% are less than one year old (according to Ahrefs). So, the sooner you get your page indexed, the higher the chances of ranking higher.
Just by following the right guidelines while creating your page/site, you are at a clear advantage against your competitors.
You don’t get so many passes with indexing that you can afford to not do the base SEO work before Google indexes your site/page.
Check if your page is indexed
There are two ways to go about this, either by using Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) or by using a SEO intelligence tool such as Linkody (or Yoast in some cases).
Although Google offers its Search Console tool for free, it takes a while to learn the ins and outs. In my opinion, this is better suited for someone with an intermediate level of expertise with SEO.
If you’re an SEO expert, you wouldn’t be reading this, would ya?
Hence the alternative; SEO intelligence tools are exactly what a beginner would want. They do all the background processes and show you the SEO metrics you need.
Whether you like the extensive options of the Search Console, or the ease-of-use of a SEO intelligence software, you can speed up the process by manually adding your site/page to Google’s Index queue.
Adding a site to Google Search Console
Then add properties, aka, your URLs of your pages. Using HTTPS and HTTP for the same is still considered as two different properties. So, http://example.com is different from https://example.com.
Then you’d have to verify the ownership of the site using one of the methods suggested by Google.
Once the verification process is done, you can see the status of Google Index. This is where you will see different analytics such as index status, page health and so on.
To speed up the process of Google Index, you can submit the sitemap URL of your site in the Search Console.
In a nutshell, sitemap is pretty much like a city map, showing the structure of how and where things are.
You can create a sitemap for your website simply by using an online tool such as this one.
You would upload the sitemap to your home folder and hence, the address will be something like, http://your-domain.com/sitemap.xml.
Google doesn’t immediately index your site; but, this is the (only) fastest method there is.
Checking your site’s index status
Let’s go ahead and see how it’s done with each interface (Google and Linkody). Whichever you choose, it’s advisable to learn it well enough to be able to check index status often or even automate it.
1. Using Google search console
While adding properties or submitting sitemap URL, you might’ve noticed the Google Index Status section.
Worry not even if you haven’t, go here and find your Index status report.
In the old Webmasters tool it would look like this
And in the new Search Console report, it would like this
There are more options on the side; so, you can play around with different them and learn the strengths and weaknesses of your link index.
2. Using a SEO intelligence tool
The alternative is to use a SEO tool like Linkody.
Remember how I talked about other metrics such as page rank and number of backlinks? You can track all that with Linkody, making sure that you’re ahead of your competitors.
You can also track an important factor that affects your SERP rank; the number of backlinks you have and whether they’ve been indexed by Google or not.
- Green – The referring page has been indexed by Google
- Yellow – The referring site is indexed but the page is not
- Red – The referring site is not yet indexed by Google
Having a lot of backlinks is another way to get your site indexed faster. Google learns about your site from many other sites and eventually sends their Google Spiders to crawl on your site.
Linkody helps with that as well, by letting you add domains of your competitors and showing the number of backlinks and other metrics of theirs. What this means is that, you can imitate their success strategy.
Alternatively, you can also use Yoast to get a sitemap if you’re using the wordpress plugin to do you SEO chores.
Reasons why it’s not indexed
Sometimes your pages might get indexed in a matter of days and sometimes it could take months and your page might still not be indexed.
Even though no one really knows what goes on within Google, top marketers have been able deduce to some extent how to crack the Index code.
Here are top five factors affecting your index status:
1. Number of backlinks you have
The number of backlinks and the reputation of your site on search engines is directly proportional.
Having many a backlink is like having other websites vouch for you. It’s not that easy, but, it certainly does reward well.
2. Duplicate content
Having too much duplicate content from within your own website or from (many) other websites, is detrimental to your SEO metrics.
This will increase your spam rank and decrease your domain authority.
So, try to make your content as unique as possible.
3. Meta Tags
Meta tags are hidden to users but provide vital information to search engines about the page and site.
They are located within the <head> tag of each page on your website. They include information such as page description, page author, published date, etc.
4. Your domain name
This is quite simple; just have your domain name as something easy to understand, both for the users and Google. Of course if you’re already well known getting indexed (even with a peculiar name) won’t be that difficult.
Make sure your domain tells Google what your site is about. More specifically, don’t be misleading with the name.
5. Page URLs
Make sure the URLs of your pages are “SEO friendly”. Meaning, they are short in length and crisp in meaning without any (or minimal) use of stop words.
This will help Google better understand what that page is about even before it starts crawling it.
For example, if your page title is “How to index your pages on Google?”, the URL should be, “Google-index-your-pages”.
Of course, this doesn’t cover the whole list of things that affect your indexing speed and likelihood; but, this is a good start.
Make sure you’ve done your homework with on-page optimization and other important raking metrics before you get started with Indexing.
Good luck in your SEO endeavors!