Google’s Search Relations team, consisting of experts Martin Splitt, John Mueller, and Gary Illyes, share insights into why a website’s homepage may not be indexed on their latest episode of the ‘Search Off The Record’ podcast.
The discussion revolved around technical and non-technical issues that could prevent a website’s homepage from appearing in Google’s search results.
Technical Reasons & Solutions
If a website’s homepage isn’t indexed, it suggests a significant technical problem.
“For new sites, especially the home page, should be very simple to get indexed. If that doesn’t get indexed, then that definitely points to some bigger problem.”
Several potential technical issues could be causing this problem:
- The website might be unreachable from Googlebot.
- The robots.txt file could be blocking Googlebot.
- The homepage URL might not be linked to any other page.
To resolve these issues, check your server logs to see if Googlebot is crawling your homepage.
Next, check your robots.txt file, which directs Googlebot on which pages to crawl. Remove it if it contains a directive blocking the homepage, such as a noindex meta tag.
Canonicalization issues could be another potential problem if the homepage redirects or canonicalizes to another page. In such cases, Google will index the canonical page, not the homepage. Therefore, it’s essential to check for unnecessary redirects from the homepage.
Lastly, ensure links point back to the homepage from your website’s internal pages. If visitors can’t easily navigate to the homepage, neither can Googlebot.
Non-Technical Reasons and Solutions
There are non-technical reasons that could prevent a homepage from being indexed.
If the homepage contains placeholder content like template text, copyright notices, or under-construction graphics, Google may opt not to index the page.
Google generally prefers to index content that provides valuable information, which means you should follow Google’s helpful content guidelines when crafting your homepage.
They also pointed out that canonicalization and hreflang issues might cause a homepage to appear unindexed if it’s canonicalized to another URL
Finally, if a site previously hosted spammy or low-quality content, the homepage could be blocked for policy reasons. In such cases, Google may need to review the site before re-allowing the homepage to be indexed.
Patience Is Key
Both technical and non-technical issues could prevent a website’s homepage from being indexed in Google. Identifying and resolving these issues requires patience and diligent troubleshooting.
Technical problems like crawler blocks, canonicalization errors, and lack of internal links are addressable by checking server logs, auditing redirects, and improving site architecture.
Non-technical issues around placeholder content, previous spam penalties, and new site latency can be resolved by improving content quality, requesting re-reviews, and allowing adequate time for Googlebot to crawl the site.
The key is not to get discouraged but instead use the opportunity to enhance your website’s technical foundation, content quality, and user experience.
By addressing indexing issues thoroughly, you’ll build a more robust, more Google-friendly site in the long run.
Featured image generated by the author using Midjourney.
Source: Google Search Off The Record