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Fixing Google Search Console’s Coverage Report ‘Excluded Pages’

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Fixing Google Search Console's Coverage Report 'Excluded Pages'

Google Search Console lets you look at your website through Google’s eyes.

You get information about the performance of your website and details about page experience, security issues, crawling, or indexation.

The Excluded part of the Google Search Console Index Coverage report provides information about the indexing status of your website’s pages.

Learn why some of the pages of your website land in the Excluded report in Google Search Console – and how to fix it.

What Is The Index Coverage Report?

The Google Search Console Coverage report shows detailed information about the index status of the web pages of your website.

Your web pages can go into one of the following four buckets:

  • Error: The pages that Google cannot index. You should review this report because Google thinks you may want these pages indexed.
  • Valid with warnings: The pages that Google indexes, but there are some issues you should resolve.
  • Valid: The pages that Google indexes.
  • Excluded: The pages that are excluded from the index.

Google Search Console Coverage Report

What Are Excluded Pages?

Google does not index pages in the Error and Excluded buckets.

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The main difference between the two is:

  • Google thinks pages in Error should be indexed but cannot because of an error you should review. For example, non-indexable pages submitted through an XML sitemap fall under Error.
  • Google thinks pages in the Excluded bucket should indeed be excluded, and this is your intention. For example, non-indexable pages not submitted to Google will appear in the Excluded report.
    Excluded pages in GSCScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Excluded pages in GSC

However, Google doesn’t always get it right and pages that should be indexed sometimes go to Excluded.

Fortunately, Google Search Console provides the reason for placing pages in a specific bucket.

This is why it’s a good practice to carefully review the pages in all four buckets.

Let’s now dive into the Excluded bucket.

Possible Reasons For Excluded Pages

There are 15 possible reasons your web pages are in the Excluded group. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Excluded by “noindex” tag

These are the URLs that have a “noindex” tag.

Google thinks you actually want to exclude these pages from indexation because you don’t list them in the XML sitemap.

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These may be, for example,  login pages, user pages, or search result pages.

Google Search Console Excluded by a noindex tag

Google Search Console Excluded by a noindex tag

Suggested actions:

  • Review these URLs to be sure you want to exclude them from Google’s index.
  • Check if a “noindex” tag is still/actually present on those URLs.

Crawled – Currently Not Indexed 

Google has crawled these pages and still has not indexed them.

As Google says in its documentation, the URL in this bucket “may or may not be indexed in the future; no need to resubmit this URL for crawling.”

Many SEO pros noticed that a site might have some serious quality issues if many normal and indexable pages go under Crawled – currently not indexed.

This could mean Google has crawled these pages and does not think they provide enough value to index.

Google Search Console Crawled Currently Not IIndexedScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Google Search Console Crawled Currently Not IIndexed

Suggested actions:

  • Review your website in terms of quality and E-A-T.

Discovered – Currently Not Indexed 

As Google documentation says, the page under Discovered – currently not indexed “was found by Google, but not crawled yet.”

Google did not crawl the page not to overload the server. A huge number of pages under this bucket may mean your site has crawl budget issues.

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Google Search Console Discovered Currently Not IndexedScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Google Search Console Discovered Currently Not Indexed

Suggested actions:

  • Check the health of your server.

Not Found (404)

These are the pages that returned status code 404 (Not Found) when requested by Google.

These are not URLs submitted to Google (i.e., in an XML sitemap), but instead, Google discovered these pages (i.e., through another website that linked to an old page deleted a long time ago.

Excluded pages in GSC - 404Screenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Excluded pages in GSC - 404

Suggested actions:

  • Review these pages and decide whether to implement a 301 redirect to a working page.

Soft 404

Soft 404, in most cases, is an error page that returns status code OK (200).

Alternatively, it can also be a thin page that contains little to no content and uses words like “sorry,” “error,” “not found,” etc.

Soft 404 in Google Search ConsoleScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Soft 404 in Google Search Console

Suggested actions:

  • In the case of an error page, make sure to return status code 404.
  • For thin content pages, add unique content to help Google recognize this URL as a standalone page.

Page With Redirect

All redirected pages on your website will go to the Excluded bucket, where you can see all redirected pages that Google detected on your website.

Page with redirect in Google Search ConsoleScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Page with redirect in Google Search Console

Suggested actions:

  • Review the redirected pages to make sure the redirects were implemented intentionally.
  • Some WordPress plugins automatically create redirects when you change the URL, so you may want to review these occasionally.

Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical

Google thinks these URLs are duplicates of other URLs on your website and, therefore, should not be indexed.

You did not set a canonical tag for these URLs, and Google selected the canonical based on other signals.

Suggested actions:

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  • Inspect these URLs to check what canonical URLs Google has selected for these pages.

Duplicate, Google Chose Different Canonical Than User

Excluded page in GSCScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022Excluded page in GSC

In this case, you declared a canonical URL for the page, but even so, Google selected a different URL as the canonical. As a result, the Google-selected canonical is indexed, and the user-selected one is not.

Possible actions:

  • Inspect the URL to check what canonical Google selected.
  • Analyze possible signals that made Google choose a different canonical (i.e., external links).

Duplicate, Submitted URL Not Selected As Canonical

The difference between the above status and this status is that in the case of the latter, you submitted a URL to Google for indexation without declaring its canonical address, and Google thinks a different URL would make a better canonical.

As a result, the Google-selected canonical is indexed rather than the submitted URL.

Suggested actions:

  • Inspect the URL to check what canonical Google has selected.

Alternate Page With Proper Canonical Tag

These are simply the duplicates of the pages that Google recognizes as canonical URLs.

These pages have the canonical addresses that point to the correct canonical URL.

Suggested actions:

  • In most cases, no action is required.

Blocked By Robots.txt 

These are the pages that robots.txt have blocked.

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When analyzing this bucket, keep in mind that Google can still index these pages (and display them in an “impaired” way) if Google finds a reference to them on, for example, other websites.

Suggested actions:

  • Verify if these pages are blocked using the robots.txt tester.
  • Add a “noindex” tag and remove the pages from robots.txt if you want to remove them from the index.

Blocked By Page Removal Tool 

This report lists the pages whose removal has been requested by the Removals tool.

Keep in mind that this tool removes the pages from search results only temporarily (90 days) and does not remove them from the index.

Suggested actions:

  • Verify if the pages submitted via the Removals tool should be temporarily removed or have a ‘noindex’ tag.

Blocked Due To Unauthorized Request (401)

In the case of these URLs, Googlebot was not able to access the pages because of an authorization request (401 status code).

Unless these pages should be available without authorization, you don’t need to do anything.

Google is simply informing you about what it encountered.

401 page in GoogleScreenshot from Google Search Console, May 2022401 page in Google

Suggested actions:

  • Verify if these pages should actually require authorization.

Blocked Due To Access Forbidden (403)

This status code is usually the result of some server error.

403 is returned when credentials provided are not correct, and access to the page could not be granted.

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As Google documentation states:

“Googlebot never provides credentials, so your server is returning this error incorrectly. This error should either be fixed, or the page should be blocked by robots.txt or noindex.”

What Can You Learn From Excluded pages?

Sudden and huge spikes in a specific bucket of Excluded pages may indicate serious site issues.

Here are three examples of spikes that may indicate severe problems with your website:

  • A huge spike in Not Found (404) pages may indicate unsuccessful migration where URLs have been changed, but redirects to new addresses have not been implemented. This may also happen after, for example, an inexperienced person changed the slug of blog posts and as a result, changed the URLs of all blogs.
  • A huge spike in the Discovered – currently not indexed or Crawled – currently not indexed may indicate that your site has been hacked. Make sure to review the example pages to check if these are actually your pages or were created as a result of a hack (i.e., pages with Chinese characters).
  • A huge spike in Excluded by ‘noindex’ tag may also indicate unsuccessful launch and migration. This often happens when a new site goes to production together with “noindex” tags from the staging site.

The Recap

You can learn a lot about your website and how Googlebot interacts with it, thanks to the Excluded section of the GSC Coverage report.

Whether you are a new SEO or already have a few years of experience, make it your daily habit to check Google Search Console.

This can help you detect various technical SEO issues before they turn into real disasters.

More resources:


Featured Image: Milan1983/Shutterstock

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

The number of online surveys has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

From short social media polls to lengthy feedback forms, it’s never been easier to survey your target audience and find out what exactly they’re thinking.

When it comes to free survey makers, you have plenty of options to choose from.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is you have to wade through your options to figure out the best survey tool for you.

In this article, I’ve done that dirty work for you.

Below I outline the top six free survey makers, with a simple bulleted list of their pros and cons, so you can quickly select the best one for your needs.

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But first up, the caveats.

What You’re Missing With Free Survey Makers

When something’s free, there’s usually a catch. The same goes for free survey makers.

Free survey tools, or the free plan offered by a paid survey tool, often come with the following limitations:

  • Limited export options. You may not be able to export your survey data for review in Excel or Google Sheets. There may be a PDF-only export option or no export ability at all.
  • Limited analytics. Free survey tools often skimp on the analytics. You may be left to your own pivot tables and Excel expertise if you want to create anything fancy from your survey data.
  • Limited survey functionality. This runs the gamut, from a limit on how many respondents or questions you can have per survey, to only allowing so many question types (e.g., multiple-choice, long-form, etc.).
  • Limited extra perks. By perks, I mean those other features that make software from good to great. With survey makers, that might mean easy-to-access support, the ability to embed surveys in email or webpages, multiple user accounts, or integration with other email marketing or CRM software.
  • No branding. Free survey makers give you their tools for free. In return, you provide them with free brand awareness. Don’t expect to be able to swap out their logo for your own. You’ll probably be stuck with their branding, along with a prominent link to their site throughout the survey or on the thank you page (or both).

If any of the above is a dealbreaker for you, you should plan to drop a little dough on a paid survey tool. That’s why I’ve also included the starting price for all six of the tools featured below.

In case you end up having to upgrade later, it’s easier to do so from a tool you’re already familiar with.

Top 6 Free Survey Tools

Without further ado, I present the best free survey makers you’ll find today. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Google Forms

Screenshot by author, June 2022

Do you live and die by your Google Drive?

Great news: Google also offers free survey software via Google Forms.

Alright, I know I just said these were presented in no particular order, but I’ll openly admit Google Forms is my personal favorite. Just look at all of the features they include in their free plan!

All you need is a free Google account to get started.

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Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Export to Google Sheets.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Ability to embed images and YouTube videos.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website and share to social media.
  • Survey analytics, updated in real-time.
  • Integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Customizable survey templates.
  • Free branding.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Enhanced security and collaboration options.
  • Integration with your existing Google Workplace account.

Price: Completely free. Google Workplace pricing starts at $6 per user per month.

Best for: Anyone and everyone, for business or casual use.

2. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkeyScreenshot by author, June 2022

SurveyMonkey is the online survey tool. Established in 1999, it’s still the most well-known online survey software.

Despite the limitations of its free plans, SurveyMonkey continues to be popular thanks to its intuitive interface and brand recognition. Notable clients include Allbirds, Tweezerman, and Adobe.

One nice perk is that you can test out any of the paid features with your free plan. (You just won’t be able to actually use it in your live survey until you pay up.)

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions.
  • 15 question types.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Over 250 customizable survey templates.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Mobile app.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions, question types, and responses.
  • Data exports – this is a biggie!
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Advanced security (single sign-on, HIPAA compliance).
  • A/B testing.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $16 per month for individuals, $25 for teams.

Best for: Those who want a tried-and-true survey maker with all the features you could ask for.

3. Typeform

typeformScreenshot by author, June 2022

Many online survey tools are designed for the general public.

Readers of Search Engine Journal will be happy to hear that there’s a survey tool created just for us. Typeform was built specifically with marketers, UX researchers, and business owners like us in mind.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

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  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 10 responses per month.
  • Basic question types.
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Integrations with MailChimp, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, Zapier, and more.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Custom thank you screen.
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Ability to accept payment.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Integration with Facebook pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users, UX researchers, and marketers hoping to track customer behavior.

4. Zoho Survey

zoho surveyScreenshot by author, June 2022

Zoho Survey is part of the same Zoho suite of apps that caters to sales, HR, IT, finance, and virtually any kind of business user you can think of.

Given their tenure creating SaaS software for business, their survey tool is just as robust as you might expect. Customers include big names like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Change.org.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website, or share to social media.
  • Export to PDF.
  • 250 survey templates.
  • Password protection and HTTPS encryption.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Ability to export to XLS or CSV.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Real-time responses.
  • Multilingual surveys.
  • Integration with Google Sheets, Tableau, Shopify, Zendesk, Eventbrite, and others.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Best for: Zoho users, or anyone who needs an extra level of security for their surveys.

5. Alchemer

alchemer survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

Alchemer is an advanced survey maker developed for the enterprise client.

Paid features include custom coding so you can customize every single element of your survey, from the survey URL to the form logic.

They stand out among free survey makers for being one of the few (besides Google Forms) to offer unlimited questions and Excel exports in their free plan. Clients include Disney, Salesforce, Verizon, and The Home Depot.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Three surveys at a time.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • 100 responses.
  • 10 question types.
  • Export to Excel.
  • Customizable templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Unlimited question types.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Ability to embed surveys in websites.
  • Export to PDF, PowerPoint, or Word.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Survey analytics and reporting.
  • Ability to accept payment.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $49 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users needing to create long surveys with advanced logic and question types.

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6. Jotform

jotform survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

With over 10,000 templates, Jotform takes the cake as the survey maker with the most form templates on our list.

Jotform also stands out for letting you accept payments with the free plan (although you’re limited to 10).

This popular survey maker includes clients as wide-ranging as AMC and Nickelodeon to Redfin and the American Medical Association.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Five surveys.
  • 100 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website.
  • Export to PDF or Excel.
  • 10,000 survey templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • HIPAA compliance.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Users who want a template for every kind of survey possible.

Which Survey Tool Will You Use?

There truly is a survey maker for everybody.

The above options are all solid choices. Which one works for you may depend on your organization’s needs and your personal preferences.

Take advantage of the free trials and see which one you like best.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock



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