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Google Debunks The “Index Bloat” Theory

Google's John Mueller debunks the "Index Bloat" theory, stating there's no limit on the number of pages indexed per site.

  • Google debunks the "Index Bloat" theory on the latest Search Off The Record podcast.
  • Rather than worrying about excessive indexing, focus on providing useful pages for indexing.
  • Identifying and managing indexed pages is part of regular website management, not a symptom of an "index bloat" problem.

Google’s John Mueller debunks the “Index Bloat” theory, stating there’s no limit on the number of pages indexed per site.

In a recent episode of the ‘Search Off The Record’ podcast, Google’s Search Relations team addresses questions about webpage indexing.

A key point of discussion was the concept of “Index Bloat,”—a theory that has garnered attention within the SEO community.

Google Search Advocate John Mueller refutes the idea of index bloat, which posits that excessive indexing of unnecessary pages can negatively impact search engine rankings.

This article covers the details of the index bloat theory, Google’s response, and the broader implications for SEO practices.

The Theory Behind Index Bloat

The term “index bloat” describes a situation where search crawlers index pages that aren’t ideal for search results.

This includes a variety of pages, such as filtered product pages, internal search results, printer-friendly versions of pages, and more.

Proponents of the index bloat theory argue that these pages make it harder for search engines to understand websites, negatively impacting search rankings.

The theory relates to the concept of a crawl budget, the number of URLs a search bot will crawl during each visit.

The theory suggests that index bloat can lead to inefficient use of this crawl budget as search bots spend time and resources collecting unnecessary information.

Google’s Response to the Index Bloat Theory

Mueller debunks the index bloat theory, stating:

“I’m not aware of any concept of index bloat at Google. Our systems don’t artificially limit the number of pages indexed per site. I’d just make sure that the pages which you’re providing for indexing are actually useful pages, but that’s independent of the number of pages your site has.”

This statement challenges the fundamental premise of index bloat.

According to Mueller, Google doesn’t impose an artificial limit on pages indexed per site.

Rather than worrying about omitting pages from Google’s index, Mueller believes your time is better spent publishing helpful content.

The “Causes” Of Index Bloat

Those who support the index bloat theory often cite causes such as accidental page duplication, incorrect robots.txt files, and poorly performing or thin content.

However, Google suggests that these aren’t causes of a non-existent “index bloat” but general SEO practices to which webmasters and SEO professionals should pay attention.

“Detecting” Index Bloat

Proponents of the index bloat theory have suggested using tools like Google Search Console to detect index bloat by comparing the number of indexed pages to what is expected.

Google’s standpoint, however, implies this comparison doesn’t indicate a problem. It’s part of regular website management and monitoring.

The Final Word

Despite the conversations around index bloat, Google’s official stance is clear: the notion is debunked.

Instead, the focus should be on ensuring that the pages you provide for indexing are valuable and relevant.

Source: Google Search Off The Record

Featured image generated by the author using Midjourney. 

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Debunks The “Index Bloat” Theory

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