One of Google’s most helpful tools is the Google Search Console. Capable of monitoring website traffic, calculating indexing status, and identifying issues that may be hurting SEO on your site. Despite the incredible capabilities, it can be difficult to understand the common Google Search Console errors and the best way to fix them.
Learning the most common Search Console errors will help you identify issues as they are happening and swiftly modify them to ensure that you continue to get valuable insights about your website. Not fixing issues can lead to websites to not appear in search, in the worst-case scenario, so understanding how to fix these common search console errors is pertinent for all marketers. This blog will show you how to use Search Console to fix Google Search Console errors to perform better in the Google Search results. Read on to learn how to fix these common Search Console errors.
What is Google Search Console and How Can Google Search Console Help Your Website?
Google Search Console is an incredible, free tool offered by Google that works as a troubleshooting aid. Use Search Console to identify common search console errors, troubleshoot them, and help you resolve any issues there might be for crawls that are trying to index your website.
Search console provides not only troubleshooting capabilities, but it also helps you see what pages are performing well on your site and those that are being ignored by Google – allowing you to make necessary adjustments to help web performance and build on your content.
Within Google Search Console, you will be able to use a tool known as the Index Coverage report which gives you a comprehensive list of all the pages on your website that Google has attempted to crawl and index. Not only that, Google detects reflects on any issues for you to resolve promptly.
Unravelling the Mysteries of Common Search Console Errors to Improve Google Search Console Performance
1. Pages That Haven’t Been Indexed
Google might not index certain pages on your website which can be horrific for your SEO efforts. If Google tried to index on your page, or doesn’t index the page on your site, this can lead to one of the major common Search Console errors and means the page has issues. You are going to struggle to get value from the pages which, in turn, means that Google will limit your opportunities in the organic search results. You can always ask Google to recrawl your page if you want this page to be indexed, so don’t worry.
Crawl Issues on Pages
According to Google, Google crawls your website to look for pages that are new or recently updated so that Google knows where to place them on the search engine. If your page gets crawled by Google, it will position it on the SERP. Crawl issues, as one of the common Search Console errors, can be caused by a variety of factors and sometimes Google doesn’t provide the specific details as to why this is happening. To fix crawl errors in GSC, use the URL inspection tool within Google Search Console can provide the tools to debug your pages and aid the functioning of your site.
Pages Blocked by Robots.Txt
Sometimes when you submit a page for indexing, it can be blocked by robots.txt. To stop these common errors from happening, you can fix this issue by testing your pages with the robots.txt tester to ensure that you won’t encounter this problem.
How robots.txt prevents Google from crawling a page is a simple line of code that says that Google is not allowed to crawl the page and so, the page will not be indexed. This happens even if you have requested Google to crawl it through submitting it for index. This means Google cannot crawl your page and Google could penalise you for this.
Because you will want the page indexed and Google needs this for its search engine results, you’ll want to ensure that your page is crawled. Find and fix the line of code preventing indexing by removing it from the robots.txt file. If you are struggling to do this, check your sitemap.xml file to see if the URL is listed there. If you find it there, remove it.
If you are using WordPress, errors you may come across involve WordPress plugins which sometimes issue a list of URLs to your sitemap file that shouldn’t be there, so check it regularly to prevent this from happening and to fix the issue.
Top tip: make sure your WordPress sitemap is optimised by including important pages like your Home page, your ‘About Us’ page, and other pages of high-quality content.
Review and update your robots.txt file regularly to ensure it accurately reflects your website’s crawling preferences. Use robots.txt file generators or tools to validate its syntax and effectiveness.
A Page has Been Marked No Index
An issue that can occur when you’ve tried to index the page by submitting it for indexing is that the page has a ‘noindex’ directive in a meta tag or even in an HTTP response. If you have either of these issues, they must be removed in order to have your page indexed by Google.
To ensure that a page can be indexed, open your page’s source code and type in the word ‘noindex’. If you see it there, go into your CMS and find the setting that removes this. If you want, you can manually edit it by dealing with the code for the page directly.
The HTTP response can be caused by an X-Robots-tag. You can remove it from the code in the HTTP header’s response or request a developer to remove it for you.
2. 404 Errors: Navigating the Maze of Broken Links
We have all seen them, 404 errors mean that Googlebots are struggling to find pages and this is one of the most detrimental yet common Search Console errors. This can look like a server error and may be due to a myriad of reasons, sometimes the page no longer exists in the place the bot has access to or sometimes the page is now blank.
One of the most common Search Console errors, 404 errors happen as websites are modified and changed. These errors can lead to a frustrating user experience and signal to search engines that your website is poorly maintained or inaccurate. As a result, search engines may crawl your website less frequently, leading to decreased visibility in search results.
Understanding these errors and how to fix them can aid your website’s appearance.
A Soft 404 From Submitted URL
Sometimes when submitting a page for indexing, the server returns what is known as a soft 404. These are pages that appear to be broken by Google but they aren’t showing a 404 Not Found response.
A soft 404 occurs when a webpage returns a 200 status code (indicating success) but the content is irrelevant or unhelpful. This can confuse users and search engines, leading to decreased engagement and potential penalties.
You should either convert these pages to proper 404 pages or redirect them to the new location. Another alternative is to add content to these pages.
A Submitted URL Not Found 404
One issue with 404s is that can submit a non-existent URL for indexing. This can cause multiple issues and is easily done by forgetting to remove the page from your sitemap after wiping it from your website. To prevent this from occurring, regularly check your sitemap file so that Google sees your website as having no broken links.
3. Mobile Usability Errors: Optimising Your Website for the Mobile-First Era
Websites should always be tailored for mobile devices considering we live in a world that is increasingly turning to this type of web surfing. Mobile usability errors are common search console errors that will direct you to problems that pages have on site that make it hard to navigate for users.
These issues such as excessive text size, overlapping content, or slow loading times, can significantly hinder the user experience on mobile devices. Search engines prioritise mobile-friendliness, and websites with usability issues may experience lower rankings in mobile search results.
Content Wider Than Screen
When content is wider than your screen, this usually means that you have an element on your page or an image that hasn’t been sized properly for mobile devices. A common issue with WordPress sites, this can happen if an image is given a caption or a plugin is used to generate an element that isn’t native to a theme.
A quick fix is to immediately remove the image or element that is causing the content to be wider than the screen. A long term fix is to modify the code to ensure that the content or element is responsive to mobile usability.
Viewport Not Set
Viewports or viewport property are used to inform browsers on how to adjust a page’s dimensions. This then scales the page to the correct size of the screen. If a page does not define a viewport property, this can cause some issues.
The webpage may appear incorrectly on mobile devices, leading to a poor user experience. Search engines prioritise mobile-friendliness, and websites without a set viewport may experience penalties in mobile search rankings.
You can fix this by specifying the viewport using a meta viewport tag. Avoiding using wide, large elements on the site can prevent difficulties that require users to scroll horizontally. This simple yet effective measure can significantly improve mobile usability and enhance your website’s mobile-friendliness.
This trait of mobile usability defines if the font size of a page is too small to be read and requires users to zoom in to consume content. To fix this error, simply specify a viewport in your pages and set font sizes to properly scale within the viewport. This can be done using relative units like em or rem rather than using pixel value for font size.
Clickable Elements Too Close Together
When a report says that clickable elements are too close together, this is usually due to elements like buttons and links being in too close proximity to one another. This makes it hard for mobile users to click the elements that they wish to access without tapping other elements that they may not want to access.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, correctly space and size elements that are suitable for mobile users. This is recommended by Google to be 48 pixels and spacing between elements to be at least 8 pixels.
Adopt a mobile-first approach to website development and optimisation. Use responsive design techniques, prioritize mobile page loading times, and test your website’s usability on various mobile devices.
Preventative Measures to Minimise Search Console Errors
- Regular Website Audits: Conduct regular website audits to identify potential issues before they escalate into common Search Console errors. Use website audit tools or engage a professional SEO to thoroughly examine your website’s content, structure, and technical aspects.
- Content Management Practices: Establish clear content management guidelines to ensure consistency and accuracy. Implement version control systems, maintain proper documentation, and utilise content review processes to minimise the risk of common search console errors.
- SEO Expertise: Seek guidance from SEO experts to gain a deeper understanding of common Search Console errors, their implications, and effective resolution strategies. Continuously update your SEO knowledge to maintain awareness of evolving search engine algorithms and best practices.
Key Takeaways for Fixing Common Search Console Errors
By making a checklist of the opportunities you have to fix common Search Console errors, you can prevent bugs in your system and allow Google to crawl indexed pages, helping with your SEO:
- Using web design that is responsive and adheres to best practices ensures that mobile usability doesn’t suffer many issues.
- By improving your site’s speed, you can resolve any common search console errors that you are experiencing with core web vitals.
- If there are issues with your index coverage, make sure that you look at your sitemap, HTML meta tags, and your robots.txt file to make sure that you don’t have any issues with those spaces.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Common Search Console Errors.
- What are Search Console errors?
Search Console errors are notifications from Google Search Console that indicate issues with your website’s content or structure that Google would consider poor and which may affect its search engine visibility. These errors occur when Google perhaps could not read your content or possibly Google found broken links in your website. It is necessary for Google to index your content to ensure it ranks on the search engine results and index blockers are common search console errors too. Common search console errors can range from broken links to mobile usability issues.
2. Why are Search Console errors important?
GSC errors can have a significant impact on your website’s search engine visibility, organic traffic, and overall performance. By addressing search console issues, you can ensure your website is shown in Google Search, is properly indexed and ranked by search engines, leading to increased visibility and potential traffic growth.
3. How do I check for Search Console errors?
To check for Search Console errors, you’ll need to have a Google Search Console account and verify ownership of your website. Once you’re logged in, navigate to the “Coverage” section in the left-hand menu. Here, you’ll find a list of any errors or warnings related to your website’s content or structure. If there are errors you don’t understand, ask your website provider to fix them.
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