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  • Writer's pictureCarli Van Stolk

What Does Indexing in SEO Mean?

If you have a website, you need to know about indexing.

Put simply: indexing is the way that search engines, like Google, categorize your content.

No matter how many blog posts you publish, if they aren't being indexed by Google, no one—and I mean no one—will see them.

Read on to learn about indexing and how you can ensure your site shows up in search.

What is indexing in SEO?

Before the internet, we used directories like Yellow Pages, right?

Say you needed to find a hair salon in your neighbourhood. You'd flip through the Yellow Pages index and scan your options. Each option was typically categorized alphabetically and by location.

Today, the process of indexing isn't too different.

When it comes to SEO, it's the way that search engines categorize and organize billions of URLs. They organize it by what each page is, and present it in ways that make sense for queries and users.

First, your website needs to be crawled by bots, and then it can be indexed. Once it's indexed, then you can start trying to rank.

An image of a graphic that says "1) Crawling, 2) Indexing and 3) Ranking".

How can I get my site indexed?

Here's how to ensure Google will find your site:

If you haven't already, submit your sitemap to Google via Google Search Console (GSC). If you've already done that, skip ahead to the next step.

A screenshot of Google Search Console's Sitemaps page on the sidebar.

A screenshot of Google Search Console's "Add New Sitemap" feature.

Once you've submitted your sitemap, check in GSC that they're indexed. Click "Pages" on the left-hand sidebar, and then you will see which ones aren't yet indexed.

A screenshot of Google Search Console's Pages section on the sidebar.

Click on the pages that aren't indexed. From there, click on an individual URL and request indexing by pressing "Validate Fix."

A screenshot of Google Search Console's "Validate Fix" button..

You'll get a notification that Google has added your site to the queue, and once it's indexed, the URL should look like this in GSC.

A screenshot of Google Search Console saying that a URL is live on Google.

How long does it take for Google to index your site?

The short answer: it depends.

It could a few days or a matter of weeks. It may faster if you have a small site, but longer with a large site and thousands of URLs.

How does Google find new websites?

It uses its software called Googlebot, which are robot 'spiders' that crawl the web. They go from site to site looking for new links and pathways to other websites. Because they're constantly searching, it's important to have a logical site structure, hyperlinks within your content, and solid backlinks linking to your pages. This also helps build site authority, improve your rankings, and speed up the indexing process.

What's the difference between indexing and ranking?

Indexing does not guarantee ranking.

Once your site is indexed, you need to create high-quality content that demonstrates E-E-A-T, follow on-page SEO best practices, and continually optimize your technical SEO in order to rank.

Ranking refers to a webpage's position in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher the position in SERPs, the more likely people are to see your content.

Looking for guidance on how to get your content indexed and start ranking? Get in touch.


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