You’ve just published a great blog post and you want to check how the snippet looks in Google search. You type the exact title of your post in hope that it’ll appear among the first results. You wait… Nothing! Your post is simply not in Google! What’s happening? And even more importantly: how to fix it?
If you can’t find your blog posts – or pages – in search results it means that they aren’t indexed by the search engine you use. The reasons why this happens might be different. Most often it’s simply a matter of time.
A search engine’s index is basically an enormous internet-based library of websites which are “read” and categorized by bots. Such an index is constantly updated in an attempt to stay relevant but – as you can imagine – indexing every website out there, checking it for changes, and then indexing those as well – is an endless task. Thus, search engines follow a system allowing them to prioritize and index content in an efficient manner.
As a result, you can find some site updates in Google search right away after publishing and others – you won’t find for days. In fact, as long as you don’t run a very influential blog with heavy traffic, you’ll find out that your content gets indexed exactly about once a week. Unfortunately, this means that your new content will be available in search results for the first time up to a week after publishing.
Some SEO plugin developers advertise their plugins for the function “ping”, meaning that Google and other search engines get notified about changes in your sitemap at preset intervals of time. Do not confuse pinging with indexing. If you take a look at the tab Sitemaps in Google Search Console you’ll understand the difference: you’ll see that the number of submitted pages and the number of indexed pages is not the same. The reason is that, while Google has been notified about the new post in your blog, it hasn’t been indexed yet – only added to the list of content that needs to be indexed.
As mentioned above, the most common indexing cycle is about a week. If you keep an eye on the changes in your stats in Google Search Console, you’ll be able to map the dates on which your content is being indexed. You can use this knowledge to plan publishing activities.
Be aware though that in some cases missing pages in search results might indicate a deeper problem. Search engines do their best to provide quality results and in their effort to do so they classify and asses websites. Sites with spammy content, detected viruses or duplicate/stolen content are usually excluded from their indexes. Therefore it’s important to you make sure that your site hasn’t been blacklisted. You can do that the easiest by keeping an eye on warnings and notifications in Google Search Console.
Get Your Content Indexed
The first step of getting your content indexed quicker is using the webmaster tools of the most popular search engines as Google, Bing and Yahoo, and Yandex. By registering your site you notify search engines about its existence and confirm that it’s a serious one by claiming ownership. Furthermore, you get access to a lot of tools and monitoring options making it easier to control the way your site performs and is indexed.
Even more importantly, you get the opportunity to test and submit sitemaps directly and to check them for errors continuously. This is quite important as a faulty sitemap can cause problems when it comes to indexing. Usually, errors in the sitemap call for a change of the plugin that generates it.
Having submitted your current sitemap is a first step in the process of getting your content indexed but is no guarantee that it will happen quicker than scheduled. However, to avoid search engines overseeing your latest posts or skipping them, use a plugin with adjustable pinging options. Too many unnecessary pings aren’t recommendable but a ping after changes are implemented is a good idea. Yoast SEO offers for example quite flexible settings.
If you don’t feel like waiting for your posts to be indexed, you can try the following and enjoy twofold effect: bringing you traffic and forcing fast indexing of new pages:
- Share new posts on Google+. This tactic helps get your new posts indexed very quickly as you basically force-feed Google with the URL. While there isn’t an official recognition of this practice, many SEO specialists and webmasters have learned from experience that it works. Best practice is to create a page for your business or blog and follow the rules of professional communication when sharing updates.
- Share links to new posts on social media. This way you’ll get traffic to your pages signaling that the content in question is important enough to skip the indexing queue. Furthermore, you achieve the most important goal of every blogger: you get the attention of the public.
- Make people share your link or search for your content. You can either do it “the right way” by posting in discussion groups, for example on Google+, or by asking friends to help you out.
- Post regularly. This tactic isn’t as sure to work as the first three but many SEO specialists argue that it helps by sending a clear message to search engines when new content is expected to be published. Unfortunately, factors as traffic, authority, etc. can prove to be more important than a publishing schedule.
If it turns out that you can’t see your pages in search due to blacklisting, there are other steps you should take. This is, however, beyond the scope of this article and will be discussed in another one shortly.