Google's Deindexing Issue

Background

Webmasters and SEOs became aware of a widespread technical issue with Google’s indexation as of Thursday, April 4th, 2019.

Google officially confirmed on Friday, April 5th that they were experiencing a bug that was causing pages to drop out of Google’s index.
 

What is Google’s Index?

When you search on Google, you’re not searching the web as it exists today, you’re searching Google’s database of the web. If Google can’t find, crawl, or loses pages from their index, it cannot be found when searching.
 

What caused it?

Google did not confirm the cause of the bug.
 

Has it been resolved?

However, it has since been confirmed that the issue has been resolved, and Google is continuing to ensure that all pages lost from the index have been restored. 
 

Resolution POV

The deindexation of key pages is undoubtedly alarming, but with the bug now rectified there are no actions for site owners to take to mitigate any traffic issues.
 
 
Regardless, there a few recommended sense checks for any brand concerned with site performance off the back of this bug:
 
  1. Coverage Report – within the ‘Index’ section of Google Search Console a Coverage Report can be studied. This report allows webmasters to view what pages of the site are indexed, what are excluded, as well as identify any pages featuring errors or warnings. This should give the clearest picture as to whether the site had experienced a drop in indexed pages over the time during which the issue was reported (April 4th – 13th)
 
  1. Ranking performance – if pages have been deindexed from the site, a disappearance of ranking keywords and a traffic drop would be expected. The best course of action would be to review ranking reports prior to the issue and compare against the ranking reports from mid-April to see if any keywords have unexpectedly dropped off
 
The above checks should be used to understand better if a brand has experienced any unexpected traffic or ranking declines over the period in question.

If you have any concerns still then, by all means, reach out to us to discuss further.

Summary

While an initial cause for concern, Google has assured the web that the issue no longer exists and they’re working to ensure all pages have been reincluded.
  
There is functionality within Google Search Console that allows webmasters to ‘Request Indexing’ of any given URL within a Search Console profile, so if there are a small number of pages which cause concerns, this is an option. There are no guarantees from Google for the speed at which the request is actioned.
 
The main thing to note, however, is that no action is required or recommended for brands at this time.

About the Author:

Gavin McColl is our SEO Account Director at Resolution Australia. You can find Gavin on LinkedIn.
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