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Google: It’s Normal for 20% of a Site to Not Be Indexed

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Google: It’s Normal for 20% of a Site to Not Be Indexed

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about indexing, offering insights into how overall site quality influences indexing patterns. He also offered the insight that it’s within the bounds of normal that 20% of a site’s content is not indexed.

Pages Discovered But Not Crawled

The person asking the question offered background information about their site.

Of particular concern was the stated fact that the server was overloaded and if that might affect how many pages Google indexes.

When a server is overloaded the request for a web page may result in a 500 error response. This is because when a server cannot serve a web page the standard response is a 500 Internal Server Error message.

The person asking the question did not mention that Google Search Console was reporting that Googlebot was receiving 500 error response codes.

So if it’s the case that Googlebot did not receive a 500 error response then the server overload issue is probably not the reason why 20% of the pages are not getting indexed.

The person asked the following question:

“20% of my pages are not getting indexed.

It says they’re discovered but not crawled.

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Does this have anything to do with the fact that it’s not crawled because of potential overload of my server?

Or does it have to do with the quality of the page?”

Crawl Budget Not Generally Why Small Sites Have Non-indexed Pages

Google’s John Mueller offered an interesting explanation of how overall site quality is an important factor that determines whether Googlebot will index more web pages.

But first he discussed how the crawl budget isn’t usually a reason why pages remain non-indexed for a small site.

John Mueller answered:

“Probably a little of both.

So usually if we’re talking about a smaller site then it’s mostly not a case that we’re limited by the crawling capacity, which is the crawl budget side of things.

If we’re talking about a site that has millions of pages, then that’s something where I would consider looking at the crawl budget side of things.

But smaller sites probably less so.”

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Overall Site Quality Determines Indexing

John next went into detail about how overall site quality can affect how much of a website is crawled and indexed.

This part is especially interesting because it gives a peek at how Google evaluates a site in terms of quality and how the overall impression influences indexing.

Mueller continued his answer:

“With regards to the quality, when it comes to understanding the quality of the website, that is something that we take into account quite strongly with regards to crawling and indexing of the rest of the website.

But that’s not something that’s necessarily related to the individual URL.

So if you have five pages that are not indexed at the moment, it’s not that those five pages are the ones we would consider low quality.

It’s more that …overall, we consider this website maybe to be a little bit lower quality. And therefore we won’t go off and index everything on this site.

Because if we don’t have that page indexed, then we’re not really going to know if that’s high quality or low quality.

So that’s the direction I would head there …if you have a smaller site and you’re seeing a significant part of your pages are not being indexed, then I would take a step back and try to reconsider the overall quality of the website and not focus so much on technical issues for those pages.”

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Technical Factors and Indexing

Mueller next mentions technical factors and how easy it is for modern sites to get that part right so that it doesn’t get in the way of indexing.

Mueller observed:

“Because I think, for the most part, sites nowadays are technically reasonable.

If you’re using a common CMS then it’s really hard to do something really wrong.

And it’s often more a matter of the overall quality.”

It’s Normal for 20% of a Site to Not Be Indexed

This next part is also interesting in that Mueller downplays 20% of a site not indexed as something that is within the bounds of normal.

Mueller has more access to information about how much of sites are typically not indexed so I take him at his word because he speaking from the perspective of Google.

Mueller explains why it’s normal for pages to not be indexed:

“The other thing to keep in mind with regards to indexing, is it’s completely normal that we don’t index everything off of the website.

So if you look at any larger website or any even midsize or smaller website, you’ll see fluctuations in indexing.

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It’ll go up and down and it’s never going to be the case that we index 100% of everything that’s on a website.

So if you have a hundred pages and (I don’t know) 80 of them are being indexed, then I wouldn’t see that as being a problem that you need to fix.

That’s sometimes just how it is for the moment.

And over time, when you get to like 200 pages on your website and we index 180 of them, then that percentage gets a little bit smaller.

But it’s always going to be the case that we don’t index 100% of everything that we know about.”

Don’t Panic if Pages Aren’t Indexed

There’s quite a lot of information Mueller shared about indexing to take in.

  • It’s within the bounds of normal for 20% of a site to not be indexed.
  • Technical issues probably won’t impeded indexing.
  • Overall site quality can determine how much of a site gets indexed.
  • How much of a site gets indexed fluctuates.
  • Small sites generally don’t have to worry about crawl budget.

Citation

It’s Normal for 20% of a Site to be Non-indexed
Watch Mueller discussing what is normal indexing from about the 27:26 minute mark.

Searchenginejournal.com

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GOOGLE

How to Write For Google

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How to Write For Google


Are you writing your SEO content based on the latest best practice tips?

I originally wrote this SEO copywriting checklist in 2012—my, how things have changed. Today, Google stresses quality content even more than before, conversational copy is critical, and there are revised SEO writing “rules.” 

I’ve updated the list to reflect these changes and to provide additional information.

As a side note, I would argue that there’s no such thing as “writing for Google.” Yes, there are certain things you should do to make the Google gods happy. However, your most important goal should be writing clear, compelling, standout copy that tells a story. 

I’m keeping the old headline in the hopes that I can convert some of the “write for Google” people to do things the right way.

Whether you’re an in-house SEO content writer, a DIY business owner, or a freelance SEO copywriter, this 27-point checklist will help you write engaging, Google-happy content—every time.

Items to review before you start your SEO writing project

 

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– Do you have enough information about your target reader?

Your copy will pack a powerful one-two punch if your content is laser-focused on your target reader. Ask your client or supervisor for a customer/reader persona document outlining your target readers’ specific characteristics. If the client doesn’t have a customer persona document, be prepared to spend an hour or more asking detailed questions. 

Here’s more information on customer personas.

 

– Writing a sales page? Did you interview the client?

It’s essential to interview new clients and to learn more about their company, USP, and competition. Don’t forget to ask about industry buzzwords that should appear in the content.

Not sure what questions to ask to get the copywriting ball rolling? Here’s a list of 56 questions you can start with today. 

 

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– Writing a blog post? Get topic ideas from smart sources

When you’re blogging, it’s tempting to write about whatever strikes your fancy. The challenge is, what interests you may not interest your readers. If you want to make sure you’re writing must-read content, sites like Quora, LinkedIn, Google Trends, and BuzzSumo can help spark some ideas.

 

– Did you use Google for competitive intelligence ideas?

Check out the sites positioning in the top-10 and look for common characteristics. How long are competing articles? Do the articles link out to authoritative sources? Are there videos or infographics? Do the articles include quotes from industry experts? Your job is to write an essay that’s better than what’s already appearing in the top-10 — so let the competition be your guide.

 

– Did you conduct keyphrase research?

Yes, keyphrase research (and content optimization) is still a crucial SEO step. If you don’t give Google some keyphrase “cues,” your page probably won’t position the way you want.

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Use a keyphrase research tool and find possible keyphrases for your page or post. As a hint: if you are tightly focusing on a topic, long-tail keyphrases are your best bet. Here’s more information about why long-tail keyphrases are so important.

If you are researching B2B keyphrases, know that the “traditional” keyphrase research steps may not apply. Here’s more information about what to do if B2B keyphrase research doesn’t work.

 

– What is your per-page keyphrase focus?

Writers are no longer forced to include the exact-match keyphrase over and over again. (Hurray!) Today, we can focus on a keyphrase theme that matches the search intent and weave in multiple related keyphrases.

 

– Did you expand your keyphrase research to include synonyms and close variants?

Don’t be afraid to include keyphrase synonyms and close variants on your page. Doing so opens up your positioning opportunities, makes your copy better, and is much easier to write!

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Are you wondering if you should include your keyphrases as you write the copy — or edit them in later? It’s up to you! Here are the pros and cons of both processes.

 

 — Do your keyphrases match the search intent?

Remember that Google is “the decider” when it comes to search intent. If you’re writing a sales page — and your desired keyphrase pulls up informational blog posts in Google – your sales page probably won’t position. 

 

— Writing a blog post? Does your Title/headline work for SEO, social, and your readers?

Yes, you want your headline to be compelling, but you also want it to be keyphrase rich. Always include your main page keyphrase (or a close variant) in your Title and work in other keyphrases if they “fit.”

Here’s some excellent information on how to write headlines that get noticed (and that are good for Google.) You can also use headline-analyzing tools to double-check your work.

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– Did you include keyphrase-rich subheadlines?

Subheadlines are an excellent way to visually break up your text, making it easy for readers to quick-scan your benefits and information. Additionally, just like with the H1 headline, adding a keyphrase to your subheadlines can (slightly) help reinforce keyphrase relevancy.

As a hint, sometimes, you can write a question-oriented subheadline and slip the keyphrase in more easily. Here’s more information about why answering questions is a powerful SEO content play.

 

Is your Title “clickable” and compelling?

Remember, the search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion. Focusing too much on what you think Google “wants” may take away your Title’s conversion power. 

Consider how you can create an enticing Title that “gets the click” over the other search result listings. You have about 59 characters (with spaces) to work with, so writing tight is essential. 

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– Does the meta description fit the intent of the page?

Yes, writers should create a meta description for every page. Why? Because they tell the reader what the landing page is about and help increase SERP conversions. Try experimenting with different calls-to-actions at the end, such as “learn more” or “apply now.” You never know what will entice your readers to click!

 

– Is your content written in a conversational style?

With voice search gaining prominence, copy that’s written in a conversational style is even more critical.

Read your copy out loud and hear how it sounds. Does it flow? Or does it sound too formal? If you’re writing for a regulated industry, such as finance, legal, or healthcare, you may not be able to push the conversational envelope too much. Otherwise, write like you talk.

Here’s how to explain why conversational content is so important.

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–Is your copy laser-focused on your audience?

A big mistake some writers make is creating copy that appeals to “everyone” rather than their specific target reader. Writing sales and blog pages that are laser-focused on your audience will boost your conversions and keep readers checking out your copy longer. Here’s how one company does it.

Plus, you don’t receive special “Google points” for writing long content. Even short copy can position if it fully answers the searcher’s query. Your readers don’t want to wade through 1,500 words to find something that can be explained in 300 words.

Items to review after you’ve written the page

 

– Did you use too many keyphrases?

Remember, there is no such thing as keyword density. If your content sounds keyphrase-heavy and stilted, reduce the keyphrase usage and focus more on your readers’ experience. Your page doesn’t receive bonus points for exact-matching your keyphrase multiple times. If your page sounds keyphrase stuffed when you read it out loud, dial back your keyphrase usage.

 

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– Did you edit your content?

Resist the urge to upload your content as soon as you write it. Put it away and come back to it after a few hours (or even the next day.) Discover why editing your Web writing is so very important. Also, don’t think that adding typos will help your page position. They won’t.

 

– Is the content interesting to read?

Yes, it’s OK if your copy has a little personality. Here’s more information about working with your page’s tone and feel and how to avoid the “yawn response.” Plus, know that even FAQ pages can help with conversions — and yes, even position.

 

– Are your sentences and paragraphs easy to read?

Vary your sentence structure so you have a combination of longer and shorter sentences. If you find your sentences creeping over 30 or so words, edit them down and make them punchier. Your writing will have more impact if you do.

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Plus, long paragraphs without much white space are hard to read off a computer monitor – and even harder to read on a smartphone. Split up your long paragraphs into shorter ones. Please.

 

– Are you forcing your reader onto a “dead end” page?

“Dead-end” pages (pages that don’t link out to related pages) can stop your readers dead in their tracks and hurt your conversion goals. 

Want to avoid this? Read more about “dead-end” Web pages.

 

– Does the content provide the reader with valuable information?

Google warns against sites with “thin,” low-quality content that’s poorly written. In fact, according to Google, spelling errors are a bigger boo-boo than broken HTML. Make sure your final draft is typo-free, written well, and thoroughly answers the searcher’s query.

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Want to know what Google considers quality content — directly from Google? Here are Google’s Quality Raters guidelines for more information.

 

– Did you use bullet points where appropriate?

If you find yourself writing a list-like sentence, use bullet points instead. Your readers will thank you, and the items will be much easier to read.

Plus, you can write your bullet points in a way that makes your benefit statements pop, front and center. Here’s how Nike does it.

 

– Is the primary CTA (call-to-action) clear–and is it easy to take action?

What action do you want your readers to take? Do you want them to contact you? Buy something? Sign up for your newsletter? Make sure you’re telling your reader what you want them to do, and make taking action easy. If you force people to answer multiple questions just to fill out a “contact us” form, you run the risk of people bailing out.

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Here’s a list of seven CTA techniques that work.

 

– Do you have a secondary CTA (such as a newsletter signup or downloading a white paper?)

Do you want readers to sign up for your newsletter or learn about related products? Don’t bury your “sign up for our newsletter” button in the footer text. Instead, test different CTA locations (for instance, try including a newsletter signup link at the bottom of every blog post) and see where you get the most conversions.

 

– Does the page include too many choices?

It’s important to keep your reader focused on your primary and secondary CTAs. If your page lists too many choices (for example, a large, scrolling page of products), consider eliminating all “unnecessary” options that don’t support your primary call-to-action. Too many choices may force your readers into not taking any action at all.

 

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– Did you include benefit statements?

People make purchase decisions based on what’s in it for them (yes, even your B2B buyers.) Highly specific benefit statements will help your page convert like crazy. Don’t forget to include a benefit statement in your Title (whenever possible) like “free shipping” or “sale.” Seeing this on the search results page will catch your readers’ eyes, tempting them to click the link and check out your site.

 

– Do you have vertical-specific testimonials?

It’s incredible how many great sales pages are testimonial-free. Testimonials are a must for any site, as they offer third-party proof that your product or service is superior. Plus, your testimonials can help you write better, more benefit-driven sales pages and fantastic comparison-review pages.

Here’s a way to make your testimonials more powerful. 

And finally — the most important question:

 

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– Does your content stand out and genuinely deserve a top position?

SEO writing is more than shoving keyphrases into the content. If you want to be rewarded by Google (and your readers), your content must stand out — not be a carbon copy of the current top-10 results. Take a hard look at your content and compare it against what’s currently positioning. Have you fully answered the searcher’s query? Did you weave in other value-added resources, such as expert quotes, links to external and internal resources (such as FAQ pages), videos, and graphics? 

If so, congratulations! You’ve done your job. 



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