When Google Search Console warns of coverage issues for no reason

Posted on February 25, 2020

 

Google’s Search Console is a great tool. It’s an absolute must for every website owner as it gives you invaluable information about your website and the way Google sees it. You can locate errors, submit sitemaps, see what you’re receiving traffic for and what searches you’re appearing for. You can see if you’ve been manually penalised and even check your page speed.

If you’re not using it, you should be.

The tool also sends you regular updates of issues that affect your website, such as one we received recently. Google sent us a message warning of coverage issues on a particular domain.

Coverage issues, you say? This sounds like something we need to take immediate action on. At least, that’s what you’d think. The message stated:

“Search Console has identified that your site is affected by 1 Coverage issues”

The warning went on to say:

“Warnings are suggestions for improvement. Some warnings can affect your appearance on Search; some might be reclassified as errors in the future. The following warnings were found on your site: Indexed, though blocked by robots.txt”

This sounded serious. Some content on the website was indexed by Google, but it was being blocked by the robots.txt file. Robots.txt is a simple text file that sits in the root of your website and contains a series of lines of code telling search engines which files they should and should not access.

The fact Google says some files have been blocked means the content can’t appear in a Google search. Unless we fixed this we’d have a big problem, right?

Wrong.

After investigating the issue in Google Console, we could see there was just the one affected page. It was a page flagged up by Google a few days ago, and was one that was intended to be blocked by the robots.txt file as it’s a page inside the Admin directory.

You don’t want pages inside your admin directory to be indexed as you don’t want people finding them in Google searches. They’re private files, used only by logged-in users.

What this teaches us is that you don’t need to panic just because you receive a message from Google Console. Not everything it flags up is an issue. Not everything it says is a problem is actually a problem. Sometimes you can just leave the ‘issue’ alone, as it’s supposed to be that way.

This is also the case for many other online marketing tools with which website owners can, sometimes, get a little preoccupied. Tools such as YOAST for WordPress, Majestic, Google PageSpeed Insights and many others are all there to ‘help’ you to improve your website in search. They are just tools, and you need to know to use them effectively, interpret their findings and understand what they actually mean before you can get the best out of them.

If you base everything on your Trust Flow score on Majestic, your mobile website score on Google’s PageSpeed Insights or whether or not you get a little green smiley face for your homepage on YOAST, you’re missing the real point.

The tools we mentioned, and many more besides, are great. We use them, and you should too. They can highlight really important issues or areas for improvement with your website. Please don’t get bogged down with the detail, however. Digital marketing for your website is about a lot more than ticking boxes and getting a clean bill of health from online tools.

If you find you’re not getting the results you want from your website, we’d be happy to take a look for you.

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