SEO professionals go about doing certain tasks in different ways. One of those, is evaluating how many pages you have in the Google index for SEO. In this post, we reveal real insight from Google on how to find how many pages your website has in the index.
Site Operators in Search
One of the older methods for finding out how many pages you have in the Google index is to do a site query. A “site:” query is one of the oldest Google advanced search operators. It will allow you to see very roughly how many pages are in the index. While this is the case, Google’s John Mueller from Google says, “The site query is more like a very, very, very rough number which can be a few orders of magnitude off, so plus or minus a couple zeros at the end, so as an SEO I wouldn’t focus on that and I don’t think it makes it very actionable.”
So as you can see, the site query operator is really not very useful at this point, except for rough numbers.
Webmaster Tools Index Status
Another way to check the number of indexed pages is to look at the index status report in webmaster tools. However, this has issues too. According to Mueller, “The index status report is essentially the correct number of pages that we (Google) have indexed. But that can be misleading because it shows everything that Google has run accords on a website, which could include a lot of duplicate content and a lot of things that you really don’t care about.”
So as we can see, this report is much better than the site operator query option, but at the same time there are still issues. Specifically, if there is duplicate content on the website and Google indexes that it will be reported here.
Sitemap Index Report
The sitemap index report in Webmaster Tools is the recommended option from Google. According to Mueller, “Personally I prefer the site maps count, because that’s something where you can submit the URLs that you really care about. You can say, these are URLs that I actually do want to have indexed at the moment and we look at those exact URLs.”
So as we can see, if you really want to understand your website’s ability to be indexed based on the URLs you are actively promoting, this is the best way.
One issue with the sitemaps index report is that you cannot export the pages that were indexed or were not indexed. This is a feature that webmasters have been asking for, but Google has yet to deliver.
Muller comments, “No, not at the moment. So we had that as one of the wishes submitted with the wish list we did early this year. But at the moment, that’s not something that you can do directly in Webmaster Tools. What you can do is narrow things down on your side if you want to take the time to do that. So you can submit multiple sitemap files, or course. And you can separate the URLs on your site into logical sets of sitemap files where you will say, well, these are all my category pages. These are all my product pages and that way, you can narrow things down a little bit.”
Summing up Indexed Pages in Google
Right now, there is not a perfect way to see all the pages indexed in Google, but these are some pretty good options. By using all three of these methods, understanding each of their limitations and spot checking important sections, you can do a good job seeing what is in the index and what is now. In addition, I encourage you to look at the top URLs you have ranking in tools like SEM Rush. Also, if something is not ranking make sure to run a check with fetch as Googlebot.
- English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout. March 13, 2015