Webpages that aren’t indexed cannot be found via organic search.

This is bad because:

  • the content on the page cannot strengthen the website’s topical relevance
  • the content cannot contribute towards the website’s overall topical authority
  • relevant keyword rankings cannot be supported by the content on the page
  • it probably cost time and money to have the webpage and its content published
  • visitors cannot consume the information directly from Google SERPs
  • visitors cannot become customers unless they are acquired from paid channels.

Therefore, one of the things SEOs do is to ensure important pages are indexed.

But Google doesn’t index every single webpage it comes across and ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ is how we see this actualised in real life.

In this article, you’re going to learn the basics of indexing so that you can identify possible reasons why Google has decided to not index one or more webpages.

There’s no need to search Reddit because I’m going to show you how to answer the question, “Why is my page missing from Google search?”.

Let’s get started or skip straight to the solution.

What does ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ mean?

‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ is a label found in Search Console’s Page indexing report dashboard and it refers to a webpage that Google has found. However, Google has chosen not to add it to its library of webpages served to its users.

Webpages that are not indexed are reported in Google Search Console > Page indexing

For example, Google can discover newly published content from your sitemap. It can also discover new URLs from internal links. And if the webpage has attracted backlinks, Google can discover these pages from these inbound external links.

But that’s not all. Not only has Google discovered the URL, but it has also crawled the page.

But what does crawled mean in this context?

Well, when Googlebot crawls a webpage:

  1. Google sends a request for a page to the server that hosts the website
  2. The server sends back the HTML of the page in response to the request
  3. Google reads the HTML of the page and looks for links to other pages on the same site, as well as external links to other sites
  4. If the page contains JavaScript, Google will execute the JS so it can render the page and understand the content of the page
  5. If Google finds any links, it follows them and repeats the process for each new page it discovers.

It is completely normal and expected for any website to have a small percentage of URLs flagged as ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’.

How do I find pages that have been crawled but not yet indexed in GSC?

To get a list of all the pages that are Crawled – currently not indexed’, follow these 5 steps:

  1. In Search Console, go to Indexing > Pages
  2. Scroll down the page and look for ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’
  3. Click on ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ and wait for the page to reload with data
The domain camplify.es has 2,884 pages flagged as ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’
  1. Scroll down the page and you will see the first 10 of 1,000 URLs
You can view a sample of URLs in GSC – this is adequate for small websites but for larger sites with more than 1,000 URLs, you will need to use a third-party app or connect to Search Console API
  1. Click on EXPORT to download the full list to either Google Sheets or into an Excel file.

But if you work on a large website with more than 1,000 URLs stuck in ‘Crawled – not currently indexed’ status, this method won’t work for you because Search Console limits you to a sample of 1,000 URLs.

You could get access to Google Search Console API but I find this too hard. So instead, if there are more than 1,000 URLs that have been crawled but not indexed, I recommend you pull the entire list using Screaming Frog by connecting the app to Google Search Console URL Inspection API.

Connect Screaming Frog SEO Spider to Google Search Console URL Inspection URL to see more than 1,000 rows of data

What causes webpages to be crawled but not indexed on Google Search?

There are many reasons why this can happen. Some common reasons why Google will not index a page:

  1. Google has difficulty rendering the content: Google needs to see what the webpage looks like and it does so with mobile-first indexing. If the page requires extensive JavaScript or critical CSS paths have been blocked in the robots.txt file, Google cannot see the webpage and therefore cannot gauge the relevance and quality of the content.
  2. The content offers little to no new information for searchers: It costs significant resources to crawl and index the growing internet. Therefore, it is in Google’s best interest to index content that offers a different perspective to what already exists in its index.
  3. The website has not demonstrated subject matter expertise in the topic of the page: Most websites on the internet stick to an overall topical theme. When a website starts branching into a completely new direction, Google may decide to delay indexing as the website has poor topical relevance and no authority on the subject matter.
  4. The webpage is an orphan URL: Google may have discovered a URL from a XML sitemap but may choose not to index the page because no other webpages have linked to it.
  5. Status of the host server has changed: In rarer cases, a website may have blocked all traffic as a response to a DDoS attack. After some time, Google will begin removing pages from its index as it can longer verify the content’s existence. And when crawlers can access the website again, it may take some time for these pages to get indexed again.
  6. GSC reporting issue: The data from the URL Inspection tool refreshes much quicker than that of the Index Coverage report. What this means is that if the URL Inspection tool says a page is indexed but the same URL is reported as being ‘crawled – currently not indexed’, ignore the latter information.
  7. Google is experiencing indexing issues: Google has experienced indexing issues in the past where there are substantial delays in new content displaying in Google Search and Google News.

In my experience, websites with low-quality content and years of unresolved technical debt suffer from more than one cause.

FYI, solutions to each of these are discussed further down the page.

When is ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ a problem?

All websites will have some URLs marked as ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ and this is perfectly normal.

As previously mentioned, a page that is not indexed cannot support and contribute toward’s a website’s topical relevance and commercial transactions. And if a significant percentage of newly published, information-rich or commercial intent URLs continue to be missing from Google Search, this is problematic.

So when does ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ become a problem?

There are 2 tell-tale signs that a website (or Google) has indexing issues:

1. When webpages continue to be ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ despite the pages serving HTML, having inbound links, and unique and helpful content

A webpage that serves HTML, has contextual inbound links, and offers useful information to the user should be easily indexed within days of being published.

It may not rank on the first 2 pages of Google SERP but it should be indexed.

If pages continue to remain not indexed despite manually requesting indexing in GSC, all important webpage elements can be rendered by Google, and there are no signs of malicious activity on the website, then there is a high chance Google is experiencing indexing issues.

While this doesn’t always occur, the best way to confirm that an indexing problem exists with Google and not the website is to carry out a crawling, rendering and indexing audit.

You can follow my technical SEO audit checklist to do this.

2. When you see a consistent increase in affected pages:

An increasing trend in the number of affected pages is a clear sign that there is something wrong with the website.

In the following screenshot, the website has seen an increase of 217% in ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ pages over 2 months.

GSC provides a column graph showing the number of affected pages – if an obvious trend exists, something is stopping Google from indexing the website’s pages

This is bad.

Not only are there many webpages not indexed. The number has doubled in a very short amount of time.

When I see something like this, two causes immediately jump to mind:

  1. Google has difficulty rendering the content
  2. The status of the host server has changed

And 9 out of 10 times, when I ask about the history of the website, a poorly executed site migration or a new front-end stack is the culprit.

Now, hopefully, the website you are investigating doesn’t have such an aggressive spike in affected URLs.

Fortunately, most websites look like this, where:

  • there are some 404 errors
  • some pages with 3XX redirects (deliberate)
  • some pages that have a noindex tag applied (deliberate)
  • some pages crawled but not indexed
In this instance, 80% of the URLs reported as ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ are WebP files

How to fix ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’

The solution to this problem will depend on why you think Google has decided against adding the page to its index.

In my experience, you will probably have to address a few of these things all at once.

1. Make it easy for Google to render the content

If your analysis reveals that Google has difficulty rendering the content, this is your biggest priority.

You’ll need to get an understanding of what has happened to the website and see how this information aligns with when URLs started not getting indexed. Usually, a change to the front-end or back-end CMS is causing rendering bottlenecks.

For example, if the website got a new design and the new design requires JavaScript to render on-page content, and there were no issues with new content being indexed before the re-design, this is probably something you want to verify.

Or perhaps the website moved from one platform to another (e.g., from WordPress to headless).

You can do this by checking if Google can render the content using the GSC URL Inspection tool.

To do this:

  1. In the Page indexing report, click on the magnifying icon on one of the affected pages. This will open up the URL Inspection Tool.
  1. Click TEST LIVE URL and wait for Google to crawl and attempt to render the page’s contents.
  1. Once the page reloads, click VIEW TESTED PAGE > SCREENSHOT and see if Google has rendered the page properly.
In this example, it appears as though Google can render the content on the page

To get this information at scale, use a web crawler such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider. And for websites relying on browser rendering, follow the instructions detailed in ‘How to crawl a JavaScript (or React) website with Screaming Frog’.

2. Offer new or different information to Google users

One of the biggest mistakes content writers and SEOs make is publishing regurgitated information.

There is absolutely no incentive for Google to index webpages with similar content to what already it has crawled, rendered and indexed.

To make matters worse, popular SEO writing tools such as Surfer SEO, Clearscope, Fraze, and copy.ai can easily encourage writers to repeat the same content that already ranks.

This is why having a structured content brief template matters.

Grab my free content brief template

Therefore, if one or more webpages are stuck in ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ status for a prolonged period, you can fix this by improving the quality of the content so that the user experience is different to an already saturated SERP.

This can be done by:

  • providing new information that other websites have failed to cover
  • being more detailed so that the reader doesn’t have to perform additional searches
  • offering a controversial opinion backed up by real experience
  • addressing a particular group of people rather than a broad audience.

3. Develop expertise and authority in the subject matter with supporting content

This means publishing a minimum number of webpages to cover the topic.

Depending on the topic, you may need 3-20 pieces of supporting content, each varying in word count and linking to each other using contextual and meaningful anchor text.

For example:

  • A brick-and-mortar bridal store will need at least 3 pieces of supporting content covering different questions a customer may have in their buyer’s journey, for example:
    • What are wedding dress silhouettes, how do they differ, and which one is best for me?
    • Do wedding dresses need alterations? If so, which ones are most common?
    • What materials are wedding dresses made from?
  • An affiliate aggregator will need at least 7 educational articles covering various aspects of credit cards if they wish to rank for corresponding commercial intent queries, for example:
    • Types of credit cards
    • Credit card fees explained
    • How to compare and pick the best credit card
    • What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?
    • Guide to credit card: interest-free days, minimum repayment vs statement balance, interest rate etc
    • How to read your credit card statement
    • [product A vs product B]
  • An eCommerce business will need at least 3 articles on each product category, for example:
    • What is a video doorbell?
    • [product A vs product B]
    • What are the benefits of a video doorbell?

As more supporting content is published, you should see the target webpage move from ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ to ‘Indexed’.

I also recommend specifying an author and/or reviewer in each of these articles using structured data markup.

4. Link to the affected webpage from other relevant pages on the website

Adding internal links is one of the easiest things you can do in SEO.

To do this:

  1. Open up Google search in a browser
  2. In the address field, use site: search operator and add the domain
  3. Add a space then input a keyword
site:nerdwallet.com credit cards
  1. Look for pages that you think can reference the URL stuck in ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’
  1. Add an internal link to the target page from these URLs.

5. Check for bot detection and protection protocols and advise accordingly

I worked on a website that was the target of a DDoS attack. In response, all non-Australian IP addresses were blocked. Within 72 hours, Google began de-indexing webpages, including the homepage as it could no longer access the website.

After much explaining and negotiating, I was able to convince decision-makers to remove the geofencing and most URLs were re-indexed.

However, it took a week and a mixture of non-indexed URLs was being reported as ‘Crawled, currently not indexed’, ‘Discovered – currently not indexed’, or ‘Blocked due to access forbidden (403)’.

6. Compare URL Inspection Tool results against Page indexing report

Data in Search Console’s Page indexing report is refreshed at a slower cadence than URL Inspection Tool. Therefore, some pages reported as ‘Crawled – currently no indexed’ may have already been indexed.

For example, in the following screenshot, the last update to the Page indexing report in Google Search Console is at least 72 hours behind.

This screenshot was taken Jan 4 but the data shown in the Page indexing report is from 31 Dec

To verify if this is the case:

  • manually inspect each URL in GSC if you have a small number of affected pages
  • if you have a large number of pages to check, connect Screaming Frog SEO Spider to Google Search Console URL Inspection API and run a crawl.

7. Check Google Search status dashboard

Back on July 15, 2022, Google confirmed it was having issues indexing new content (source).

In response to this, it launched a Google Search status dashboard.

If you truly believe the website has no technical issues and the content on the page is unique to what already exists on the SERPs, and the Google Search status dashboard reports that Google is experiencing indexing issues, then there is nothing you can do but wait for Google to resolve things on their end.

8. Identify a common pattern among affected URLs to form a hypothesis to test

SEO is a continual process of making hypotheses, testing, observing, and making hypotheses again. Your job is to gather the data and make sense of it.

Google tends to leave clues as to why it is not indexing a page. The fact that it has crawled a webpage and decided against indexing is a big hint.

Once you have extracted a complete list of all ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ URLs, look for page templates or page elements that are common in the affected URLs.

And since you know Google has successfully crawled these URLs, you can use the insights the crawl stats report in GSC provides to support your hypotheses.

For example, you can assume that URLs that have been crawled but not indexed fit into Googlebot’s discovery function. In GSC, you can extract a list of these URLs that Google has discovered in the last 90 days.

Then you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider in List Mode, connect the crawl to Google PageSpeed Insight API, grab Core Web Vital data, and see if there is a correlation between non-indexed URLs and poor CWV metrics. And since you’ve crawled these URLs, you can explore if there are any inconsistencies in their content quality, page titles, headings, meta descriptions, inbound links, html vs rendered html, or canonical tags.

Alternatively, you can extract a list of CSS or JavaScript from GSC crawl stats to see if they’re being blocked in robots.txt.

In closing

When significant resources have been used to publish useful content, having that content not discoverable on Google Search is extremely frustrating and costly.

In most cases, there is something in the front end or content that is causing Google to say, “Thanks but no thank you”.

Your role as an SEO is to figure out if an indexing problem exists and if so, does it exist on Google’s end or your end. Then it is a matter of identifying what are the most likely factors contributing to the issue(s), t-shirt sizing them in terms of effort and impact, and prioritising them.