The Basics of Google Search Indexing Explained

The Basics of Google Search Indexing Explained


3 min read

If you want to have effective SEO, it's important to understand how Google Search indexes your web pages.

Before indexing a page, Google needs to crawl your website.

Google uses bots called crawlers to find pages to index. Once the crawler finds your page, the next step is to index it.

During the indexing process, Google parses your page's HTML. During this step, the HTML is inspected for semantic issues or invalid HTML tags. These issues might be fixed, but in some cases, HTML tags might be dropped entirely if they're in the wrong place.

With this said, it's important to keep in mind that properly structured HTML is essential for effective indexing.

Google analyzes content and collects signals

The indexing process also involves steps to analyze the textual content, key content tags, attributes, images, and videos on your page. Google also collects signals that help determine your page's relevance and ranking in search results. Some of these signals include:

  • Is a web page the canonical page

  • What language is the page in

  • How useable is the page

A canonical page is used to represent a group of duplicate pages.

Sometimes you might have duplicate or similar content on several pages. Google groups these pages through a process known as Duplicate Clustering and chooses one to be the canonical version that represents this cluster. Google indexes this canonical version, while the other versions may still be served in different contexts.

The quality of your page's content is key.

Once duplicate web pages are handled, Google will inspect the quality of the content on the page it's trying to index. If the quality of the content is poor, then Google may not index the page. In other words, indexing is not guaranteed. Only high-quality canonical pages are indexed.

Outside of ensuring your website has high-quality content, your pages might not be indexed based on other technical requirements. To be eligible for indexing, the following must be true for your page:

  • The Googlebot crawler must not be blocked

  • It must return an HTTP 200 status code

  • The content must be indexable

Your page might be removed for spam policy violations.

It's important to ensure your content complies with Google's spam policies. The following can all get your pages removed:

  • Cloaking: presenting different content to users and search engines

  • Keyword Stuffing: filling a page with keywords or numbers to manipulate your ranking in Google Search

  • Sneaky Redirects: redirecting users or search engines unexpectedly to show them different content than what they intended to see

Indexing is an important part of the SEO process. Understanding how to optimize this process, ensuring you produce high-quality content, and following best practices can improve your site's ranking on Google Search.