Checking Index Status in Google Search Results

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As a follow up to our FAQ on Why doesn’t the title and description I set appear in search results?, this article describes how you can check your index status in Google search results.

So first the why: Why do you need to check your index status?

The answer is that you spend time optimizing your site for search engines and you want to know when those changes are reflected in search results.  For example, you change a Meta Description for a page to comply with Google’s Quality Guidelines, but when you check Google search results, the change is not reflected.  This is because search engines don’t have to update their index for your site every time you make a change.  It could take days, weeks or even in some cases, months for search engines to update their index to reflect a change you made.  Knowing how often they update their index is therefore very important.

So now the how: How do you check the frequency by which Google updates their index for your site?

  1. Head over to Google.com and enter site:domain.com (replace domain.com with your domain).  So for example, to check our site, we’d type into Google search “site:semperplugins.com”
  2. Next click on the “Search tools” tab under the search bar
    google search tools
  3. Now click on the “Any time” dropdown and select a period, I typically recommend “Past Year” so that you can see how often Google updated their index over the last year
  4. Now click on the “Sorted by relevance” dropdown that has appeared and select “Sort by date”.
  5. You will now see the familiar search results but limited to just your site for the past year sorted by last updated, most recent at the top.  From this screen you can now work out how often Google updates their index for your site by checking the last updated date next to each result.

Checking last updated in Google search results

If the result of the steps above shows that the period between last updated dates is too great, say more than 1 month, then you may want to consider trying to influence Google to update their index more frequently.  The main way to do this is by posting content more regularly.  The more regularly you post content, the more regularly Google will crawl your site and the more regularly they will update their index.  Make sure you submit your XML Sitemap to Google via Google Webmaster Tools, and make sure you set the Schedule Updates frequency in the XML Sitemap module that is close to the frequency you post/update your content.

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