Google’s Search Relations team, made up of experts Martin Splitt, John Mueller and Gary Illyes, share insights into why a website’s home page might not be indexed in its latest episode of the podcast, Search Off The Record.
The discussion revolved around technical and non-technical issues that could prevent a website’s home page from appearing in Google’s search results.
Technical reasons and solutions
If a website’s home page is not indexed, this indicates a significant technical problem.
“New websites, especially the homepage, should be very easy to index. If that’s not indexed, it definitely points to a bigger problem.”
Several potential technical issues could cause this issue:
- The website may not be reachable by Googlebot.
- The robots.txt file may be blocking Googlebot.
- The home page URL may not be linked to another page.
To fix these issues, check your server logs to see if Googlebot is crawling your home page.
Next, check your robots.txt file, which tells Googlebot which pages to crawl. Remove it if it contains an instruction that blocks the homepage, e.g. B. a noindex meta tag.
Canonicalization issues could be another potential issue if the homepage redirects to another page or is canonicalized. In such cases, Google indexes the canonical page and not the home page. It is therefore important to check the home page for unnecessary redirects.
Finally, make sure that the links from your site’s internal pages point to the home page. If visitors can’t easily navigate to the home page, neither can Googlebot.
Non-Technical Reasons and Solutions
There are non-technical reasons that could prevent a home page from being indexed.
If the home page contains placeholder content such as template text, copyright notices, or graphics under construction, Google may choose not to index the page.
In general, Google prefers to index content that provides valuable information. Therefore, when creating your home page, you should follow Google’s helpful content guidelines.
They also pointed out that canonicalization and hreflang issues can cause a homepage to not appear indexed when canonicalized to a different URL
Finally, if a site has previously hosted spam or low-quality content, the homepage may be blocked for political reasons. In such cases, Google may need to validate the site before allowing the home page to be indexed again.
Patience is the key
Both technical and non-technical issues can prevent a website’s home page from being indexed in Google. Identifying and fixing these issues requires patience and careful troubleshooting.
Technical issues like crawler blockages, canonicalization errors, and missing internal links can be fixed by checking server logs, monitoring redirects, and improving site architecture.
Non-technical issues related to placeholder content, previous spam penalties, and new site latency can be resolved by improving content quality, requesting rescans, and allowing Googlebot sufficient time to crawl the site.
The key is not to get discouraged, but to seize the opportunity to improve the technical foundation, content quality and user experience of your website.
Tackling indexing issues thoroughly can help you build a more robust and Google-friendly website in the long run.
Featured image created by the author using Midjourney.
source: Google search confidential