SEO News You Can Use: The Updated Index Coverage Report Has Undergone Changes | SEOblog.com

SEO News You Can Use: The Updated Index Coverage Report Has Undergone Changes

Lesley Marchant
SEO News You Can Use

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Google Search Console’s Index Coverage report – a fairly new report introduced with the revamp of Search Console – has been keeping web owners better informed about indexing issues since 2018. 

The report shows the indexing state of every URL Google has visited (or tried to visit) on a particular website. Most SEOs have been consulting the Index Coverage report to determine which URLs have been crawled and indexed by Google and why Google has chosen to crawl a particular URL – but the results have always been a little hazy, to say the least. 

Over the past two years, many an SEO has provided Google with plenty of feedback regarding possible improvements they would like to see in the future. Well, it looks like the future is now because Google announced in a blog post last Monday that it has made four substantial new changes to the Index Coverage report based on feedback from the SEO community.

The changes seem to be angled towards greater data accuracy and interpretation – something anyone with a website can appreciate – and errors that were once unclear have been relabeled with more specific categories. 

The updates include the following:

  • Google is doing away with crawl error guesswork. The vague “crawl anomaly” issue is being replaced with specific issues and resolutions. 
  • Site owners will know with 100 percent certainty if a page indexed by Google is blocked by robots.txt. The report will now state “Indexed but blocked” instead of “submitted but blocked.”
  • A new issue, “indexed without content,” has been added. It will refer to pages that appear in the Google index but, for reasons not related to robots.txt blocking, the content cannot be read. 
  • Soft 404 reporting will be more accurate. 

The response to these updates has been overwhelmingly positive – not surprising since these requests came directly from SEOs themselves. It’s always great to see Google not only hearing what web owners want but listening and delivering on requests. With the insights provided by the new-and-improved Index Coverage report, Google’s indexing should be much less of a mystery. 

More SEO News You Can Use

YouTube Has Launched New Hashtag Search Results Pages: While Instagram has been moving away from hashtag searches, YouTube is ramping them up by introducing results pages for hashtag topics. The ability to search by hashtag on YouTube has been around since 2018, but it always had some issues. Now, a hashtag search on YouTube’s app will bring up a dedicated results page containing videos with that particular hashtag. Even better? The page has a video count that shows how many channels have published videos using that hashtag, giving marketers and content creators valuable information.

Using the Link Disavow Tool Does Not Signal to Google That Your Site is Shady: In a recent Google SEO office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller answered a question that has long plagued SEOs: Does a disavow secretly make Google flag a site as suspicious? It’s a valid concern because, in the past, the tool was mostly used to clean up websites that had participated in black-hat link schemes and broken Google’s rules. Thankfully, Mueller said using the disavow tool today is “not an admission of guilt or any kind of bad thing.” Rather, it is a “technical thing” that signals you don’t want a link to be taken into account for reasons Google isn’t likely to investigate.

The Answer to Whether Incognito Searches Affect Rankings Is Not a Simple One: When a user asked whether searches on Google’s incognito mode could affect SEO or rankings, Search Engine Journal’s Ryan Jones gave an in-depth response – and the answer has more to unpack than you might think. During a normal browsing session, search engines like Google can get basic information from your browser – like IP address and location – that helps them deliver relevant search results. And in incognito mode? Google is still aware of as much. Jones says that private browsing merely hides your history from other people using your device, but it does not make you anonymous and doesn’t give Google less information about your browsing session.

No, the Google SMITH Algorithm is Not Live: The SEO world was recently whipped up into a frenzy by Roger Montti’s deep-dive Search Engine Journal article about Google’s SMITH algorithm – we even reported on it last week. Naturally, we were all left with one question: Is SMITH live? Well, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz asked, and Google’s Danny Sullivan has responded with a definitive no. Right now, SMITH is no more than the subject of an intriguing research paper, not a reason for ranking fluctuations – perhaps you can attribute those to a possible (small) algorithm update.

Google Search Console Now Has a Dedicated Performance Report for Google News Publishers: Finally, Google News publishers will have more data on how their articles perform in Google News and the Google News app. According to Google, the new Search Console report should help publishers gauge how many times an article has appeared to users in Google News, which articles performed best and how user behavior varies by country. A help document provides all the information news publishers could need to make the most of the performance report and become a go-to online news source. 

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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