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    SEO Chat Hero (2000 - 2499 posts)

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    The Difference Between Being Indexed and Ranking


    A common mistake I see among newbies to SEO Chat is that they don't understand the difference between a site ranking and a site being indexed. We sometimes get questions like, "My site isn't indexed after 8 months - why?" but when I go to check...it is clearly indexed. At least in part. What the newbie really means is that they aren't ranking for any of their keywords. Or, in worse cases, they don't rank for their site name either.

    Being indexed means that Google has crawled your site and added it to their database. It can be found - even if very rarely or with great difficulty - in SERPs. An easy way to check if your site has been indexed is to do a site: search (that's site with a colon after it). Put your URL after site: in Google's search bar and hit enter. Only results for that URL should show up. This way, you can get an idea of how much of your site has been indexed.

    As far as crawling, you should know about your so-called "crawl budget," among other things. Check this thread for a few recent articles on the topic: Recent Crawl Budget Articles

    We also have an AMAZING sticky thread all about indexing and crawling here: Google Crawling and Indexation 101

    Want stuff straight from the source? Here are a few Google resources:
    "How Google Search Works" - Go on a journey from start to finish of the crawling, indexing, and serving results process.
    "Inside Search" covers Crawling & Indexing - A little more from Google's "inside search" site. It leads into their section about algorithms.
    "Ask Google to Re-Crawl Your URLs" - But remember that it doesn't matter how many times you submit a request!!! Don't submit 1,000 requests a day in an attempt to manipulate Google. That's a waste of your time.

    Ranking is where your site shows up in SERPs. There are a lot of different ranking factors. Just because you don't show up on the first page for a certain search doesn't mean you aren't indexed - it could mean that you're indexed but your site doesn't have enough authority to outrank the sites ahead of it.

    Many newbies, probably after reading SEO blogs of questionable value, seem to jump right into link building and off-page SEO immediately. That can be dangerous and is probably the wrong way to think about things.

    Start with your on-page SEO. We have some great threads about this here:
    Content Marketing Fundamentals
    On-Site and On-Page SEO: All You Wanted to Know About It

    Going off-page? Try some of these stickies:
    SEO Link Development in 2013 and Beyond
    Where do you find your link opportunities?
    SEO Link Building
    Creating link bait – A starting point…..
    Email Marketing for SEO
    How To: Use Forums For SEO

    Lost your rankings? THAT IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM BEING DE-INDEXED! Use the site: command whenever you're wondering if you're indexed. If your rankings have taken a plunge, try this thread: I have lost my rankings, Google has dropped me PLEASE READ BEFORE STARTING A THREAD!!

    Many SEOs make use of paid and free tools to analyze their on-page and off-page performance and identify areas in need of improvement. Another newbie mistake is to rely on tools more than on your own brain...but that's a subject for another thread I guess. Just remember that tools are robots - they do and say what they are programmed to do and say. They do not have a sense of context - that's what you need your brain for. For a list of neat tools, check out our tool thread: Useful SEO Tools

    So let's be clear - being indexed and ranking are two very, very, very different things. Not ranking, not being indexed, losing rankings, and being dropped from Google's index are four separate problems that often require unique solutions. Don't make the mistake of confusing indexing and ranking!

    Hope the links and stuff help

    Know of a great tip to monitor your site's crawl budget or check how much of it has been indexed? Want to share a thread or article about on-page/off-page ranking strategies that would be helpful to total newbies? Post it below!

    Comments on this post

    • Prof.stan agrees
    • Ann Smarty agrees : Great one (couldn't add rep points for some reason)
    • Pierre Benneton agrees
  2. #2
  3. My views are my own ;)
    SEO Chat Good Citizen (1000 - 1499 posts)

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    Crawl = spider links
    Index = save in database
    Rank = decide where to show in search results

    Comments on this post

    • ty55on agrees
    Everything will be ok in the end

    If it's not ok, it's not the end

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