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 GoogleSearchConsole

A Google Sitemaps bug is causing many webmasters to see significant indexed page count falls within Google Search Console, but a fix should be on the way according to Google.

Google Search Console, known as Webmaster Tools until recently, is experiencing an issue causing confusion and concern among webmasters and marketers as huge declines are appearing in the indexed pages shown in the Google Sitemaps report.

Barry Schwartz is one expert who has seen hundreds of thousands of pages being suddenly displayed as no longer indexed by Google, and shared an example of how the problem can look on a report:

index_error-800x322

Google is already aware of the issue and is hard at work to resolve it. Google’s Gary Illyes responded to Schwartz on Twitter saying “it’s confirmed and we’re working on it.”

If you’ve encountered similar drops in indexed page counts on your reports from July 14, there’s no cause for alarm. The glitch will be fixed soon and won’t affect your traffic or rankings through the search engine in the meantime.

If there is one way to concisely explain the changes Google’s search algorithms have gone through in the past couple years, it would boil down to “bigger is not always better.” Gone are the days that you can jam as many keywords as you could fit into a paragraph of text, or buy up countless thousands of links and hope to rank highly.

However, the more you do to offer quality content and information to your users while staying in line with Google’s practices, the more success you’ll see.

Those two ideas are fairly common knowledge now, but they have created their own fair share of questions. Where should the balance between quantity and quality lie? How is this content evaluated? Does quantity of content outweigh quality of content?

Google has given some insight into how content is evaluated in the past, and it is clear that you won’t get far with an excessive amount of paper-thin content. Still, the number of indexed pages your site has does indeed have an effect on your ranking. So how exactly does this work and what is the balance?

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Webspam, addressed this type of issue head-on in his most recent Webmaster Chat video. He was asked, “Does a website get a better overall ranking if it has a large amount of indexed pages?”

Cutts explained that having more indexed pages isn’t a magic ticket to higher rankings. He said, “I wouldn’t assume that just because you have a large number of indexed pages that you automatically get a high-ranking. That’s not the case.”

However, having more indexed pages does have some clear benefits. The more pages you have, the more opportunities you have to rank for different keywords. But, this is only because you should be covering a larger variety of keywords and topics across that larger group of pages.

A larger number of indexed pages is also likely to improve your overall links and PageRank, which can affect your ranking. But, the link isn’t direct. Simply having more pages won’t improve much for you. Instead, you have to use those extra pages to deliver valuable content and information to your users. If you’re just filling your site with a meaningless wealth of pages to be indexed, you won’t be seeing any improvement anytime soon.