The bigger the website size, the more complex the technical SEO problems.
Managing a large website that contains thousands of URLs isn’t as simple as optimizing a small one. And more often than not, large enterprise sites often struggle with one crucial aspect: page indexing issues.
Some of the potential indexing pitfalls include duplicate content, wasted crawl budget, and incorrect sitemaps—all of which can lead to poor visibility on Google’s search ranking.
In this article, we’ll delve into some common Google crawling and indexing issues for large sites. We’ll discuss why these crawl errors occur, their impact on a site’s ranking and traffic, and most importantly, how to fix them.
Whether you’re a website owner, marketer, or SEO specialist, this article will provide valuable insights and practical solutions to help your large site overcome page indexing issues and reach its full potential.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
1. Duplicate Content
Due to the sheer volume of product pages, the complexity of the web structures, and variations of similar product descriptions, it is very easy for large ecommerce websites to have duplicate content. Left untreated, this can result in indexing and crawling errors, as well as wasted crawl budgets.
Websites using content management systems (CMS) that employ templates for certain types of pages (e.g., product pages and category pages) may also face duplication issues if the templates are not carefully customized.
To prevent duplicate content, you can use a technical SEO technique like canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of a page. This tag informs search engines which URL should be considered the original and indexed. It’s beneficial when you have multiple URLs that lead to the same or very similar content. Here’s an example:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/preferred-url">
For paginated content (e.g., category pages with multiple pages of products), use rel=next and rel=prev tags to indicate the sequence of pages. Google should understand that these pages are part of a series.
If you have similar content on different pages, consider consolidating it into one comprehensive, authoritative page by removing or rewriting duplicate content where possible. There are several more ways to deal with duplicate content, and we go into those in great detail here.
2. Content Quality
Content quality is a critical factor in determining how well a website performs in SERPs. While high-quality content is great for SEO, poor content quality has the opposite effect.
Google aims to deliver the most relevant and valuable results to users. That’s why when the content on a large website is of low relevance or lacks value to users, search engines will deprioritize crawling and indexing the pages.
Using outdated SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing or employing spammy techniques can also lead to lower content quality. And because Google’s algorithms are now designed to identify and penalize such practices, it can damage your indexing and ranking performance.
To maintain your content quality, conduct regular audits. Remove or update the low-quality, outdated, and irrelevant content to meet Google’s standards. Focus on creating content that provides genuine value to users, as this enhances user engagement by improving readability, time on page, and overall user experience.
Related: Discover 11 best technical SEO tools for a proper content audit.
3. XML Sitemap Issues
XML sitemaps are essential tools for SEO, because they help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of a website’s content. That said, XML sitemap can also cause indexing problems, especially on large sites.
If the XML sitemap does not include all the relevant URLs or is outdated, search engines may not crawl and index the new or updated content. For large websites that frequently add or modify content, an incomplete or outdated sitemap leads to missing pages in search results. Moreover, if there are discrepancies between the sitemap and the actual site structure, search engines will struggle to understand the organization of content, hurting the website’s index quality.
To avoid having XML sitemap issues on a large site, keep your XML sitemaps up to date with new or refreshed content. You should also accurately set the priority and frequency attributes based on the importance and update frequency of the pages.
If the sitemap is excessively large, consider breaking it into smaller, logically organized sitemaps. This will aid search engine in processing the pages and helping you audit the XML sitemap for duplicate entries, ensuring that URLs correctly redirect to their intended destinations.
4. Crawl Budget Limitations
A crawl budget refers to the number of pages a search engine’s crawler, such as Googlebot, is able to crawl and index within a given timeframe. Once that budget is exhausted, bots will no longer crawl or index your page until the next crawl. And without being indexed, your content won’t show up on search results.
Since the crawl budget is limited, large websites are more prone to crawling and indexing problems as they will need more resources to achieve a 100% indexing rate. When your crawl budget is depleted, some important pages, especially those deeper in the site’s hierarchy, may not get indexed, leading to missing content or no appearance in SERPs.
Related: Learn 9 methods to avoid missing content in web crawls and the recommended tools.
To optimize the crawl budget for large websites, you can guide bots to only crawl specific pages using robots.txt or use a prerendering tool like Prerender. More about Prerender will be discussed in the next section.
As a prerendering solution, Prerender identifies who makes the request. When it comes from a crawler, Prerender gets all the necessary files on your site and renders it into a static HTML site in a few seconds. The rendered page is stored in the cache, so the next time the crawler comes to your page, Prerender will feed it with a perfectly rendered page. This will guarantee that the pages are 100% indexed and save your valuable crawl budget.
Find out how Prerender works in detail here.
Overcoming Google indexing challenges on large websites can be challenging, but by taking some proactive measures as discussed above, you can achieve effective indexing and maximize the online success of your enterprise website.
Achieve 100% indexed pages with Prerender. Sign up today and get 1,000 renders per month for free.