Recently, we discussed Domain Authority and how it impacts the overall visibility of your company’s presence online. Another element that’s used in the equation is indexing. Don’t freak out, we love geeking out and getting technical so we’ve got you covered!
According to Google, the indexing of your content is determined by a system of algorithms that takes into account “user demand and quality checks.” You can influence the Google indexing process by how you manage the discovery of your content depending on the URL of the page. Without a website page’s URLs, Google cannot crawl, index, and basically present your content for the world to see in search results.
To put it in simpler terms, think of indexing as a way to get all the pages on your site included in the search engines database to display results to your prospective customers. Keep in mind, that it is all about quality over quantity so don’t go out and start creating a bunch of random pages to try and trick the search engines. Trust us, they have very sophisticated systems in place to index only relevant and high quality content. What you do want to do is produce content your ideal audience will find of value and the more pages on your site that Google can index, the higher chance you have of earning more rankings and ultimately more organic traffic.
The first step in the indexing process is deciding how to manage the discovery of your content with Google and other search engines so that their search engine crawlers can find your resources and data. There are a few approaches to take in this process:
The passive approach
If you create a website without providing a sitemap, a direct list of URLs to your content, Google will automatically try to find and index the content on your site unless you specifically block certain content from their crawlers. Google’s systems are automatically programmed to crawl the relationships between your pages and other website pages to link to your content.
If you don’t want to spend any additional work on your content besides simply creating it and featuring it on your site, then this approach might be right for your business. This approach works well for businesses who have simple sites that do not require timely content to show up in search results. However, relying on natural links as the only way to discovery, means that Google might not find all of the content on your site, especially if it’s new or buried deep within your site, which might cause problems for content that you want to show up in search results in a timely manner.
The active approach
By providing Google a direct list of URLs via a sitemap, Google no longer has to find your content only through other sites linking to yours. This speeds up the process of Google finding your content. Then, once Google can establish the relationship between the various resources on your site, it can better determine what content to display in search results.
Take it a step further with updated URLs
While you can host your sitemap on your site for Google’s systems to discover and call it a day, you also have the ability to notify Google about new URLs or URLs that have changed content. For new URLs, submitting your sitemap to Google using Google’s Search Console tool helps Google quickly discover them. For content that you change on existing URLs, you can provide an XML sitemap with modification timestamps to notify Google of the updated content so they can re-index the page.
Now that we know the basics of what indexing is and the different ways your site gets Google to crawl, here are some tips on how to get the most out of your indexed pages and rank higher in search results.
How to Rank Higher in Search Results
Quality over Quantity
As mentioned earlier, although quantity is a factor in search rankings, it doesn’t boost the weight as much as quality content. A common misconception is that if you see a higher index number (more indexed pages), it means better SEO results. But that’s not true. In fact, the lower quality your content and the higher the volume, the greater the penalty enacted by search engines. Therefore quality, strategic content is necessary to not only boost your Domain Authority, but your rank, as well.
Search engines utilize intricate algorithms that boil down to understanding two things about content:
- Content and its context
- User search intent and keyword relationship
Indexing sets search engines like Google on a mission to identify keywords, process synonyms, and match those to content in order to provide accurate search results. So what does that mean for indexed pages? The more strategic your content and the higher the relevancy of your chosen keywords, the better you show up in search. Remember, though, quality over quantity. Tired of us writing that yet? This applies to keywords, as well. A page riddled with keywords suffers a search engine penalty for “keyword stuffing” which is an old school black hat trick that you want to avoid at all costs.
When creating your content, it may be tempting to use six articles, all relatively identical with a few changes between, but this duplicated content presents issues for both the search engine and you. Search engines use link metrics to determine the information between a link and its target location. If there are even two of the same content, a search engine can’t determine which to include or exclude from their database, how to direct link metrics, or which version to use for results. As a result, your rank suffers and you lose traffic. The best you can do is to reduce your duplicate content, preferably to zero. However, don’t panic that everything needs to be original. You can repurpose your content, just make sure it’s different enough from the original to avoid this issue.
Indexing can be a complicated situation, but focusing on quality will always get you where you need to go, ‘nuff said. Keeping pace with competitors who have filled their sites with content, thus spurring you to do the same, puts you both in a boat of damaged authority, rank, and results. If you focus on quality, strategy, and uniqueness, your rank will begin to rise.
Remember, search engines are a tool, not the solution. They’re designed to help the user, to render results filled with quality, relevant information. If you provide that, your indexing will improve. If you would like more information on how indexing works, how your site is measuring up, or on a content strategy to improve your search rankings, please contact us!