Solving SEO Puzzles: Page Indexing Issues in Google Search Console, and what they mean

We know running a business is tough and the last thing you need is a bunch of confusing Page Indexing Issues from Google Search Console adding to your stress. You’re an expert in your field, not SEO, and phrases like ‘noindex tag’ or ‘redirect’ might sound like a foreign language.

But here’s the good news: they don’t have to.

SEO is just another puzzle to solve, and once you have the right pieces, it’s not as scary as it seems. That’s why we’ve created this guide – to demystify those warnings and help you understand what they mean, why they’re important, and how to handle them.

And remember, just like any puzzle, sometimes it’s OK to ask for help. That’s why we’re here. Now, let’s decode these SEO mysteries together.

Page Indexing Issues: what they mean, the causes and when you should pay attention

  1. Page with redirect
    • What it means: Imagine you’re trying to walk into a room, but instead of going straight in, someone tells you, “Nope, this way instead,” and points you to another room. That’s kind of what a redirect is on a website.
    • Potential Causes: This happens when a website page is moved or changed to a new location (another URL).
    • Why it’s important: It can be confusing, like if you moved and didn’t tell your friends your new address, they might show up at your old house.
    • Specific Fixes: To fix this, the website owner needs to make sure the old page correctly points to the new page, and that it does it quickly so you don’t get lost or bored waiting.
    • Sometimes it’s OK: Like when a store moves to a bigger, better location and they just want you to know where the new one is.
  2. Not found (404)
    • What it means: This is like looking for a page in a book that doesn’t exist. You turn to the page number, but it’s just not there.
    • Potential Causes: The page might have been removed or the URL could be wrong.
    • Why it’s important: It’s frustrating, like reaching for a cookie and finding the jar empty.
    • Specific Fixes: The website owner should either put the page back or fix the broken link that led you there.
    • Sometimes it’s OK: Sometimes pages get deleted because they’re not needed anymore, like if you finished a book and didn’t need to keep the old draft pages.
  3. Excluded by ‘noindex’ tag
    • What it means: This is like a secret page in a book that the author doesn’t want everyone to read.
    • Potential Causes: The website owner added a tag that says “noindex” which tells search engines to ignore this page.
    • Why it’s important: Search engines like Google won’t show these pages in search results, so it’s harder for people to find them.
    • Specific Fixes: If the page should be found in search, the website owner needs to remove the ‘noindex’ tag.
    • Sometimes it’s OK: Some pages are meant to be secret or private, so they have this tag on purpose.
  4. Duplicate without user-selected canonical
    • What it means: This is like if an author wrote the same story twice and didn’t tell you which one they liked best.
    • Potential Causes: There are two similar pages on a website, and the website owner didn’t pick a “canonical,” or preferred one.
    • Why it’s important: Google might get confused and pick the wrong version to show people.
    • Specific Fixes: The website owner should pick their favorite version and mark it as the canonical version.
    • Sometimes it’s OK: If both versions are almost identical and you don’t mind which one people see.
  5. Duplicate, Google chose different canonical than user
    • What it means: This is like if an author told you their favorite story, but the book publisher decided to advertise a different one instead.
    • Potential Causes: There are two similar pages, the website owner picked a favorite, but Google thought the other one was better.
    • Why it’s important: It could confuse readers if they find the version Google picked and not the one the author liked best.
    • Specific Fixes: The website owner could try to make their chosen version better, or change it so it’s more different from the other one. This might convince Google to choose it as the canonical, or main, version.

Remember, all these problems are like little puzzles.

Just like you might try different strategies to solve a hard puzzle, website owners can try different things to solve these problems. And just like with puzzles, sometimes it’s OK to ask for help if a problem is really tricky.

That’s why Google Search Console is so useful – it’s like a helper for website owners to figure out these problems and make their websites better.


Father of 3. Enthusiastic reader of books. Moderately proficient braaier of meat.
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