According to Google SearchLiaison, there was an indexing issue on Friday, as a result of a technical issue, which lead to a selection of pages across the internet being de-indexed temporarily.
So what does this mean for you and your site?
Here’s what we’ve seen so far and what you can do about it.
What is de-indexing?
So why does it matter that Google “had indexing issues”?
Well, Google’s entire system is built around one very large list of pages on the internet, so that when someone searches for relevant terms, they know to return your page in the results.
But if their index breaks, even temporarily, then suddenly Google doesn’t know that your page exists.
In other words, your page has been de-indexed, similar to adding a “noindex” directive to your robots.txt file
What is the effect of a page being deindexed?
If your page has been deindexed by this issue with Google’s index, then temporarily, your page is not available to be returned in search results.
So when someone searches for something that’s relevant to your page, your page is no longer shown in search results.
This may also be reflected in keyword tracking tools as your page not raking for keywords that it was previously doing well for.
The current state of the Google index issue
Although this issue first appeared on Friday 5th of April, 2019, it appears that Google has been actively working on addressing it, and claim that the problem has mostly been addressed.
However, they also are yet to provide a final update confirming that it has been fully resolved.
What we have seen is that most of the affected sites/pages within our agency have been reindexed and are now ranking for the same terms as they were before the issue, in mostly the same position.
How to address the impact on your site
As this an issue being caused by Google, there’s not a lot you can do to fix it, but there are some things you might want to do to minimise the impact on your site.
1. Check for affected pages
Firstly, use a rank tracking tool to look for sudden rank drops for specific terms across your site.
If you identify any terms that have dropped suddenly, even if temporarily, check which pages they were ranking on.
What we noticed is that these terms started ranking less relevant sub-pages across the site, but at a much lower position.
2. Check whether those pages are showing up in search
Using an incognito window in Chrome, search for these terms and see whether your original page is showing up again in the same position.
If the page does show up in roughly the same position, then your page has been reindexed, and your rankings should settle down again soon.
You can also do a site:mydomain.com.au search to ensure that the page is showing up in search results, or paste the full URL into the Google search box.
3. Resubmit missing pages to Search Console
If your page does not appear in search results, one way to get your page indexed again is to resubmit it or indexing via your Search Console account.
Use the “URL inspection” tool to see the current status of your page in the Google index.
If you get the message that the URL is not in Google, then click “Request Indexing”
This will tell Google that your page needs to be indexed as a priority, although it may not happen straight away.
4. Monitor your pages ongoing
Once you have checked your pages and submitted any that need reindexing, then it’s simply a matter of monitoring the affected pages to make sure that:
- They’re showing up in search results
- Your keyword rankings recover
Keep checking them regularly, once or twice a day, using the same tricks as before:
- Search for the full page URL in Google Search
- Search for all indexed pages using a “site:mydomain.com.au” search and look for the affected pages in the results
- Search for the relevant terms for the affected pages
Follow these steps and you should hopefully see your site fully recover in search traffic and rankings in no time.