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Bug in Google Search Causing Issues with Canonical URLs and Indexing

author image Written by: Lia           Categories - Digital Marketing

April A Bad Month for Indexing Issues as Google Continues to Work on Fixes and Solutions

Late in the day on April 25, Google announced they’d found a bug in Google Search that could cause the search engine to select unrelated canonical URLs. According to Google’s Twitter announcement, this issue could also prevent proper indexing in some cases: https://twitter.com/googlewmc/status/1121538876126969859 Google also commented that this could also cause new indexing issues in cases where the search engine won’t index specific URLs. As of April 26, this issue still hasn’t been officially resolved, though Google is working on finding a solution. This issue comes on the heels of a Google News indexing problem just before Easter. This bug caused news content from major publishers to simply not index properly. And a week before that, Google was confirming they’d dealt with another indexing issue. Basically, April hasn’t been a good month for Google’s indexing abilities. Pages that aren’t in Google’s search index are, essentially, invisible to the average user through organic search. Unless someone has the exact URL, unindexed or deindexed pages won’t turn up in Google’s search engine results pages. Hopefully, Google will find a timely solution to these issues, and the SEO community can breathe a collective sigh of relief as things get back to normal.

Lia

Google Goes Mobile-First When Indexing New Sites

05/29/2019

Mobile-First Indexing Enabled by Default for All Sites Starting July 1, 2019

We all knew this was coming: after years of talk about Google’s index prioritizing mobile-friendly sites, it’s finally happening. As of July 1, 2019, Google’s indexing will be mobile-first for all new websites and domains. According to Google, this change applies to new websites, not existing pages, so the good news is you don’t need to drastically overhaul your site for this change. Google will watch and evaluate pages for mobile-first indexing as they have in the past for older sites. There’s more good news: dynamic serving and separate URLs for mobile sites will still be supported. Google does recommend responsive web design for new sites, however. From Google’s official Webmaster Blog announcement: “For existing websites we determine their readiness for mobile-first indexing based on parity of content (including text, images, videos, links), structured data, and other meta-data (for example, titles and descriptions, robots meta tags). We recommend double-checking these factors when a website is launched or significantly redesigned.” Considering how ubiquitous mobile searches are, it’s a bit surprising it’s taken this long for Google to go completely mobile-first. Google’s comments about this announcement do shed a bit of light on their reasoning. “Our analysis has shown that new websites are generally ready for this method of crawling.” It could simply be that they felt they gave ample notice about this over the years and are ready to make it happen. Considering the amount of talk and discussion mobile-first has gotten in the SEO community as far back as 2017, it looks like most webmasters have had time to prepare for this. Is your website built from the ground-up to be mobile-friendly, first and foremost? If you’re planning a redesign between now and July, make sure you get a responsive site that prioritizes mobile UX!

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Google Recovering De-Indexed Pages Following Technical Issue

04/08/2019

Page Index Still Recovering After Weekend Problems, Full Impact Still Uncertain

Over the weekend, an apparent technical issue caused Google to drop pages from its search index. The initial reaction from the SEO community resulted in a direct response from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller on April 6. https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1114486110284124160 Mueller confirmed that this was the result of a technical issue on Google’s side of things, adding that the issue had (apparently) been resolved and affected URLs were being processed and recovered. But come Sunday morning, the SEO community was still reporting issues. Mueller followed up to report that it looked like there were still a few hiccups and that Google’s systems were still making good progress, but that it was taking more time than initially thought. As of Monday morning, Google was still in the process of recovering these lost pages. In short, Google knows something went wrong, they’ve fixed it, and they’re working to rebuild, and process pages dropped from the index. It may take time, but things should correct themselves automatically with no action required if your pages were affected. Still, it’s a frustrating situation for SEOs and webmasters who’ve lost significant traffic due to this “technical issue” and the time taken to recover. When a page is deindexed, it’s effectively removed from Google Search entirely—this can really hurt sites that depend on organic traffic, impacting leads, ad clicks, and other conversion metrics. Simply put, even a minor technical issue with Google can have a big impact. Google has not confirmed how many pages were affected, and likely won’t provide a number. According to Mueller, a single number isn’t representative of the issue, and not useful in providing context. The good news is that SEOs and webmasters can use Google’s URL Inspection Tool (available through Google Search Console) to expedite the process for certain pages. It’s worth noting that not all pages are indexed by Google, so if you do need to use the tool, focus on the pages that matter for your traffic and leads. Issues like this highlight how prevalent and all-encompassing Google is when it comes to the digital world.

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