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One of the most frustrating aspects of search engine optimization is the time it takes to see results. In some cases, you can see changes start to hit Google’s search engines in just a few hours. In others, you can spend weeks waiting for new content to be indexed with no indication when Google will get around to your pages.

In a recent AskGooglebot session, Google’s John Mueller said this huge variation in the time it takes for pages to be indexed is to be expected for a number of reasons. However, he also provides some tips for speeding up the process so you can start seeing the fruits of your labor as soon as possible.

Why Indexing Can Take So Long

In most cases, Mueller says sites that produce consistently high quality content should expect to see their new pages get indexed within a few hours to a week. In some situations, though, even high quality pages can take longer to be indexed due to a variety of factors.

Technical issues can pop up which can delay Google’s ability to spot your new pages or prevent indexing entirely. Additionally, there is always the chance that Google’s systems are just tied up elsewhere and need time to get to your new content.

Why Google May Not Index Your Page

It is important to note that Google does not index everything. In fact, there are plenty of reasons the search engine might not index your new content.

For starters, you can just tell Google not to index a page or your entire site. It might be that you want to prioritize another version of your site or that your site isn’t ready yet. 

The search engine also excludes content that doesn’t bring sufficient value. This includes duplicate content, malicious or spammy pages, and websites which mirror other existing sites.

How To Speed Up Indexing

Thankfully, Mueller says there are ways to help speed up indexing your content.

  • Prevent server overloading by ensuring your server can handle the traffic coming to it. This ensures Google can get to your site in a timely manner. 
  • Use prominent internal links to help Google’s systems navigate your site and understand what pages are most important.
  • Avoid unnecessary URLs to keep your site well organized and easy for Google to spot new content.
  • Google prioritizes sites which put out consistently quality content and provide high value for users. The more important Google thinks your site is for people online, the more high priority your new pages will be for indexing and ranking.

For more about how Google indexes web pages and how to speed up the process, check out the full AskGooglebot video below:

 

Stop Sign

Source: Sharon Pruitt

Sometimes the source of the problem is so glaringly simple that you would never consider it. This is the case of many webmasters frustrated with their sites not being indexed or ranked by search engines. While there are numerous more technical reasons search engines might refuse to index your page, a surprising amount of time the problem is caused by you telling the search engine not to index your site with a noindex tag.

This is frequently overlooked, but it can put a complete halt to your site’s rankings and visibility. Thankfully it is also very easy to fix. The biggest hassle is trying to actually find the redirect, as they can be hard to spot due to redirects. But, you can use a http header checker tool to verify before the site page redirects.

Don’t be embarrassed if this small mistake has been keeping you down. As Barry Schwartz mentions on SEO Roundtable, there have been large Fortune 500 companies with these same problems. John Mueller also recently ran into someone with a noindex on their homepage. He noticed a thread in the Google Webmaster Help forums where a site owner had been working to fix his problem all day with the help of the other forum members. John explained the problem wasn’t nearly as complex as everyone else had suggested. It was much more obvious:

It looks like a lot of your pages had a noindex robots meta tag on them for a while and dropped out because of that. In the meantime, that meta tag is gone, so if you can keep it out, you should be good to go :).

When you encounter a problem with your site ranking or being indexed, it is always best to start with the most obvious possible causes before going to the bigger and more difficult mistakes. While we all like to think we wouldn’t make such a simple mistake, we all also let the small things slip by.