Let's be internet friends

Defining Index Bloat

Index bloat occurs when there are too many pages on a website indexed in search engines. In other words, when your site “bloats” search engines indices, there is an excess of low-quality pages that Google is indexing, wasting valuable and limited resources on pages that you probably don’t care about.

Index bloat can lead to the following SEO issues:

  • Exhausts crawl budget *
  • Decreases the organic quality of the domain
  • Lowers the ranking potential of your other pages

Additionally, there are a few scenarios that apply to some websites in specific situations that make them prone to having too many pages indexed:

  • Ecommerce websites that use URL parameters: Hundreds/thousands of possible URL variations added by introducing product filtering or re-ordering.
  • Medium to large websites: Sites with large numbers of pages that may not necessarily have a need to be indexed; like Thank You pages, PPC landing pages, Testimonial pages, and others.
  • Sites that have been blogging for a long time: We very often find archive pages like blog tags and date archive pages to bloat search engine indices, especially when there’s not a defined blog category/tag system in place.
  • Site redesigns or migrations: It’s very common to find lots of dev, or test pages left over during a site redesign or site rebuild.

Search Engine’s Limited Crawl Budget *

Gary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, said in 2017:

“Prioritizing what to crawl, when, and how many resources the server hosting the site can allocate to crawling is more important for bigger sites or those that auto-generate pages based on URL parameters.”

One of the main reasons why index bloat occurs is due to Google finding too many pages on your website that don’t have any instructions on how they should be treated. Very often a large number of these pages result in being indexed.

Taking control of how Googlebot and other search engines crawl and index your site is imperative in order to ensure you are at your maximum ranking potential. Being at this level means that Google efficiently finds your pages, understands your content, and matches the searcher’s need for information to your pages.

How to Find Sources of Index Bloat

The ideal scenario here is to have your website audited by SEO experts in order to have a comprehensive and holistic view of your website, its history, and your business objectives.

The second-best scenario is to use the Index Bloat guide I wrote on Search Engine Watch for very specific checks that can be completed. However, keep in mind that this is focused on common issues we see, and they may not necessarily apply to you.

Index Bloat & SEO Technical Optimization

Delete your Pages and Rank Higher in Search – Search Engine Watch

Resolving Index Bloat

The removal of pages from Google’s Index may certainly test your patience, as it’s a slow and painful process depending on the severity of the bloat.

It heavily depends on the CMS limitations of your site and the SEO strategy you have in place. If you don’t currently have a keyword research strategy, this is one of the first things you need to do before you begin any form of on-page SEO or link-building campaign.

Be careful!

Do not implement recommendations you read online before carefully considering the implications it will have on your website. Fixing index bloat essentially involves manually asking search engines to de-index your pages. Doing so without proper guidance or without having strategy in place can directly lead to a considerable drop in rankings.

Be smart!

Get Your Website Audited

As always, every website is different. The specific methods to resolve index bloat that works for you must be carefully considered by an SEO based on a comprehensive and thorough SEO audit of your website. Adding noindex meta tags on the wrong pages or disallowing incorrect subdirectories on your site could potentially lead to a drastic drop in organic traffic and conversions.

Are you ready to dominate the first page of Google? Our team of award-winning SEOs (and all-around awesome people) are ready to audit your website! Contact our SEO consultants today.

Looking for more SEO resources, sign up for our blog below!

Author
Pablo Villalpando

Pablo holds a BA in Sociology and is a Bilingual SEO Strategist for Victorious. He was recently featured in "Real Research: Research Methods Sociology Students Can Use" by CSU, Chico Professor Liahna Gordon. He is fortunate to enjoy a career path through analytics, digital marketing, and social psychology. His passions include Mexican food, his 4-year-old lab Chia, and astronomy.

Additional articles

SEO Expert: An Essential Guide On Becoming An SEO Expert

How to Become an SEO Expert Mastering SEO is on the to-do list of most entrepreneurs and small business owners, and yet, few of them ever take the leap to become true SEO experts. And, to be honest, it’s hard to blame them – when trying to figure out how to become an expert on SEO, one soon realizes that there is a massive amount of information and work that goes into putting together a successful SEO campaign. The focus of this article is to help you learn and become an SEO expert. It goes without saying that through trial, …

Read Article
3 Min Read
SEO Public Relations: How Does It Work Within Your Strategy

All public relations experts understand the importance of getting information in front of the right audience at the right time. However, while that’s undoubtedly true for PR, it’s the foundational principle of any Search Engine Optimization strategy as well. In fact, PR and SEO can even go hand in hand, helping to get the most out of every single message that you put out. Ensuring that your company gets attention and increases brand awareness on as many channels as possible. But how do PR and SEO work together? Let’s explore. How PR & SEO Work Together Not too long ago, …

Read Article
5 Min Read
Blog Post Template – Victorious’ Cheat Sheet for Optimizing SEO Content (Rev. 2019)

(If you want immediate access to the Victorious internal content Google Doc template, click here. ⬅️You’ll need to request access from your business email, we’ll get approved ASAP! ??) Google demands that blog articles are laid out in a manner that’s easy to read for both users on all devices, and the Google search spiders. To give them what they want, you’ll need a blog post template, otherwise known as a blog article template that will check all these boxes. To give you a leg up (and save you from blog template confusion hell), we’ve created one for you! Using …

Read Article
5 Min Read
Let's give your business the attention it deserves