When you work on large websites, especially e-commerce websites, they expand outward with new items, resulting in thousands of pages and URLs being established over time, all of which are obviously essential to the continuous expansion of the company. Here all you want after that is indexing pages on Google of your site.
As an SEO, having a lot of pages is great as long as they are all functioning well and ranking well, but in reality, as more URLs are indexed over time, many of them may eventually cease to be helpful for various reasons.
You may find that 5000 URLs are no longer required to be indexed by Google as a result of discontinued products or other changes, and you simply cannot afford to take them down because doing so could cause your website to become less effective serving 404 errors everywhere. Therefore, a simple solution would be to just not index the pages, but this will frequently result in poor results for you.
Where Is The Problem With Indexing Pages on Google?!
The issue with that is that if you ask Google to stop indexing a website after it has been able to crawl and index it for a while, it will typically continue to crawl the page and the page will continue to be included in Google’s index. Since I’m not Google, I have no idea why they won’t respond to the tag; all I know is that whenever I’ve attempted it, it hasn’t worked. I can only assume that there is a weakness in their indexing system, which I’m sure will be fixed one day, but even in 2022, we continue to see frequent issues of this nature.
How Are Things Going on Google Once it Discovers an Error?
Now, rationally speaking, if Google encounters a 404 error page, it flags it as a warning. However, they won’t immediately remove the page from the index; instead, they will return a few more times, and if the same error persists, the URL will eventually be removed from the index.
It’s no problem for Google to respond to error codes and remove your page from their index, but doing so could negatively influence your SEO. Additionally, your SEO may have been working to create links to this page, and you don’t want to lose any authority that the URL may have.
After exhausting all of the conventional approaches, I read that setting up your server to deliver a 410 status code is the best course of action in this case. However, because indexing pages on Google is ongoing, it was time to test a few approaches that other people had claimed to work. You may effectively inform Google that the page is permanently gone and won’t be returning by supplying this code (410) when visiting the URLs you want de-indexed. This is the reason why this status code is often known as the 410 Gone code.
This can be set up fairly quickly, and while a 404 and 410 error code technically mean the same thing, a 404 error is perceived as a temporary error and a 410 error is perceived as the page being completely gone. Google and Matt Cutts have confirmed that the use of a 410 can be seen as different from a 404 error via this blog post.
Over the past few years, I’ve encountered indexing pages on Google problems multiple times, and each time, the 410 status code helped me have the pages de-indexed. When I discovered that this straightforward approach worked like a charm after spending months in limbo trying to find a solution, I was blaming myself for not having tried it sooner.
So perhaps this will assist anyone who is experiencing issues with Google not de-indexing their pages despite trying the no index and other strategies.