SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can get very technical and even somewhat confusing. You need to do keyword research, content marketing and link building… and much more. But, none of these SEO techniques matters if your website has not been indexed on Google!

Take this 5 minute, two-step SEO audit to check if you have the basics right. You and your business will thank us by the end of this exercise.

 

Step 1 – Type the following into your Google search box:

site:[yourdomain.co.za] (between the brackets – type your own domain name in). Don’t include any spaces, the https:// or www. — it’s important to type it exactly as I show above. Here’s what the Google indexing query looks like for takealot.co.za for example:

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Click on ENTER to search and you’ll see Google search results that are related to your site only. These results are the pages that are eligible to receive search traffic and which Google has indexed on their search engine. If it has not indexed you will see a message saying “no search results found” — if that appears your website won’t receive any traffic from Google as it has not been indexed.

Are you ready to be found online?

Are you ready to be found online?

Or Call +27 (0)82 203 4180

Or Call +27 (0)82 203 4180

Step 2 – View the # of results Google returns

At the top of the results page, you’ll see the number of results – this is the number of web pages Google has indexed regarding your domain name. Here’s what it looks like for takealot.co.za for example.

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You’ll likely have much less than 518 million+ results in the Google index. Do not be discouraged by the numbers. Let us rather look at what the numbers mean and how you can use the data produced by your website.

Ask yourself the following questions regarding the results:

  1. Did the numbers meet your expectations?
  2. Do the numbers you see look right to you?
  3. Are there fewer pages indexed than what you thought?
  4. Or are there a lot more indexed?

Note: Particularly for larger sites, this number is an estimate only of the number of pages Google has in its index. The larger your site, the more important this exercise is. OK, let’s look at some “What If’s”…

Are you ready to be found online?

Are you ready to be found online?

Or Call +27 (0)82 203 4180

Or Call +27 (0)82 203 4180

What if I don’t see anything in the Google index?

So, you see no results…

 

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Don’t panic… yet.

First, make sure you typed the site:mydomain.co.za correctly into Google.  (See Step 1)

Then, ask these questions:

Have I done anything to cause Google to ban my website from the Google index?

Here are some reasons that may have caused you being banned from the Google Index:

  • Manipulative link building?
  • Cloaking?
  • Hiding text?

 

How to check if you have been banned:

Check Google Webmaster Tools for notifications under the MANUAL ACTIONS report.  If you see a penalty, consider a Google reconsideration request.

 

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Am I restricting Google and/or other search engines to access my site?

It is possible that actions have been taken by you or someone else, to keep search engines out of your website.

Check your robots.txt file by visiting… domain.com/robots.txt (where domain.com is your domain). Make sure that you aren’t restricting access to search engines. Eg. the following syntax in your robots.txt file will restrict access to all search engines…

User-agent: * Disallow: /

Secondly, if you’re using WordPress, ensure that you have the following setting under SETTINGS > READING unchecked…

 

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The most common reason why search engines would be restricted from the entire site is usually that the developer restricted access while the site was being built and never took the restrictions out when the site was completed. It happens more often than you would think.

Are you ready to be found online?

Are you ready to be found online?

Or Call +27 (0)82 203 4180

Or Call +27 (0)82 203 4180

What if Google did not index all of my website pages?

Remember that, especially for larger sites, the Google index is only an estimate. Crawling through the search results from the site:mydomain.co.za can show severe issues with the crawlability of your site. Eg, you might find that critical pages are not indexed or complete directories (folders) of your website are not in the index. You can check whether specific pages are in the Google index using the site:mydomain.co.za as well…

 

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Analyse your robots.txt file to make sure that you do not have complete directories on your website restricted. Eg, the following syntax in your robots.txt file will restrict Google’s access to all pages in the /products/ folder… User-agent: Google Disallow: /products/

Second, a tool like Copyscape can be used to make sure that you do not have duplicate content. Google does not like multiple copies of the same content in their index. Google may have dropped your page(s) from the index because of it. Lastly, analyse the source code of the page(s) in question and ensure that you don’t see a ‘no-index’ directive on that page. It will look like this…

<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX”>

With this tag in the source code of the page, other search engines and Google will not index the page.

 

What if I see too many pages in the Google index?

Having loads of pages in the Google index that have no value can be just as damaging as having too little or none. In fact, here is a story of a client’s website that had a plugin installed that was used to build pages for events conducted by the business. This sounds great, right? Not so… This plugin generated a page on his website every day for the past few years! When I did the site:mydomain.co.za I found over 10,000 event pages that had zero content on them, with the same meta description and title tag. We counted approximately 100 pages on the site that contained high-quality content that we would want Google to index. As a result… the site looked like this to Google…

 

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To make a long story short — Google doesn’t like that. We deactivated and removed the plugin (and did some 301 redirects). Almost overnight their SEO improved. All of a sudden Google could clearly see the valuable pages on this client’s website. Should this happen to you, you can also make sure you aren’t hacked. Unfortunately, this is the most common reason you’ll find a shockingly large amount of pages in the Google index. Take the website for the West Virginia Symphony for example…

 

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This site is hacked at the time of this writing and it only takes a quick site:mydomain.co.za query to see it…

 

google adword specialists in pretoria

 

There are nearly 1,400 spammy pages injected into the West Virginia Symphony website and only a couple dozen useful pages with content on them. Google has indexed them all. So… the West Virginia Symphony site looks like this to Google…

 

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Not good for this organisation or classical music fans in West Virginia.

You can use a service like Sucuri or Wordfence to get your website cleaned up should you have been hacked.

Secondly, look for large quantities of pages that contribute no value to your business and don’t belong in the Google index. Use your robots.txt file to restrict access to these pages or delete them from your website being sure to 301 redirects deleted pages to a relevant page.

 

Regardless, be sure to do this…

Perform the site: operator function and browse through the pages in the Google index. Look for anything out of the ordinary and consult an SEO professional if you see anything that might be harmful. Whatever you do… take action. Your website is no good if Google is not reading it properly.