How to Check Your Website Findability

Making your website as findable as possible is key to improving SEO performance. Findability refers to how easily your website can be found by search engines and website visitors and is a critical part of technical SEO.

With so much content being indexed by search engines, and multichannel marketing platforms such as apps, websites, social media, and more, consumers are in the driver’s seat for the content they consume, and if they can’t find your website, they’ll simply abandon the idea of your brand for a competitor’s.

There are several checks to make to ensure website findability, including:

  1. Indexation Check
  2. Server Uptime Check
  3. Robots.txt Check
  4. Use of Meta Robots Tag Check
  5. Client Side Errors Check (4xx and 5xx)
  6. HTML Sitemap Check
  7. XML Sitemap Check
  8. Video XML Sitemap Check
  9. Image XML Sitemap Check
  10. Custom 404 Page Check
  11. Pagination Check
  12. Subdomain Check

In this technical SEO blog, we will cover all aspects of checking the findability of your website, including what each check is, what tools you need to perform them, and even insight into how you can make it more accessible.

1. Indexation Checks:

What is indexation?

This refers to how many pages of your site are indexed by search engines. Google’s algorithm favours content-rich websites. If you have a lot of content, it’s important to make sure that Google is aware of it. 

A low indexing rate could be a sign of underlying issues, such as low domain authority, crawl budget issues, lack of internal linking, and more.

How do I check my site’s index status?

You can check your site’s index status in various ways.

  1. Search in Google site:yoursite.com and record how many page’s show up in the index.
  2. Check Google Search Console to see how many pages are indexed vs how many URLs are submitted.

2. Server Uptime Checks:

What is server uptime?

Server uptime checks refer to the ability of your hosting and web servers to keep your website online

Site speed and stability are essential to SEO to allow your website to be indexed regularly and properly. If your website experiences downtime regularly, you could see rankings decrease and a significant dip in traffic.

How can I check my server uptime?:

You can use Pingdom to run a free check of your server uptimes. 

If you experience ongoing server issues, you should invest in a quality service to monitor your website in real-time, especially if you have a large site.

3. Robots.txt Check:

What is a robots.txt?

A robots.txt file instructs search engine crawlers on how to access and crawl your site. It allows you to control what pages search engine bots can and can’t access, and have more control over your crawl budget.

How can I check my website’s robots.txt file?

  1. Visit yourwebsite.com/robots.txt (the file should be publicly accessible)
  2. Check Google Search Console, navigate to crawl > Robots.txt tester.

4. Use of Meta Robots Tag Check:

What is a meta robots tag?

The Meta Robots tag is placed in between the <head> code on a page and instructs the search engine on how to interact with the page’s content.

For example, <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> will tell search engines to not index that page. 

This tag can also be used to index on noindex images, pages, and follow/nofollow links.

Note: Be careful not to confuse this tag with the rel=”nofollow” link attribute”. A “nofollow” in the head section will instruct to not follow all links on that page, while a rel=”nofollow” tag is link-specific

How to check your site’s meta robots tags?

  1. Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check your URL
  2. Under the section marked “Internal”, scroll right until you see “Meta Robots 1” and “Meta Robots 2”
  3. This section will tell you the directive of each page.

5. Client Side Errors (4xx and 5xx)

What are 4xx and 5xx errors?

4xx errors are “Bad Request” errors–they occur when a request sent to your server fails. 5xx errors have to do with a failure on the part of your server. 

There are many types of 4xx errors (403 and 401), but the most common is 404, which happens when web traffic is sent to a page that no longer exists.

5xx errors could mean your hosting or server is struggling to handle the requirements of your website, which results in website downtime. If your website has 5xx errors, you should check to ensure your hosting and server are up to scratch, and if not, consider moving to a new host.

Generally, when your website isn’t directing traffic as it should, this is bad for your SEO performance. 404 errors are especially impactful, so you should always ensure proper redirections have been put in place to minimise loss of inbound links and overall user experience.

Find a full list of HTTP response errors here.

How can I check my site’s 4xx and 5xx errors?

  1. Log into your Google Search console
  2. Go to the section marked “Coverage
  3. Then check for any errors under the section.

clientside errors checks

If any errors are found, details about the error code and which page it’s found on will be listed.

clientside errors

6. HTML Sitemap Check:

What is an HTML sitemap?

HTML sitemaps provide an easily navigable view of your sitemap for both users and Google. They offer a page for evenly distributing page equity to pages that aren’t crawled as often. These aren’t XML files, they live on a web page and should be accessible for users.

They are beneficial for search engine rankings, great for usability, and makes your site easily navigable.

How do I know if my page has a sitemap?

  1. Check if you have a page that links to every page on your website? 
  2. If not, you can use this tool to easily create an HTML sitemap.

7. XML Sitemap Checks: 

What is an XML sitemap?

An XML sitemap is an XML file that helps search engine crawlers better understand how to index your website. They improve indexation, and help you manage your “crawl budget”, or set the importance of pages and page types on your site. 

This is particularly important for large sites with 1000+ pages, where you’ll want to give preference to your most important pages to the search engines crawl budget.

XML sitemaps also help reduce the risk of duplicating content, either by accident yourself or by competitors. With your content indexing in your sitemap, you’ll get ownership over it.

How do I check if I have an XML Sitemap?

  1. Go to yoursite.com/sitemap.xml to see if there’s one listed.
  2. Check Google Search Console, and under “Index” click “Sitemaps”.
  3. Here, you can check to see if you have any sitemaps submitted, or you can submit one directly.
  4. If you don’t have a sitemap, but have a WordPress site, you can use one of the many available plugins to help you create one, such as RankMath, YoastSEO, or All in One SEO.
  5. Otherwise, use any of the tools listed here to create an XML sitemap.

8. Video XML Sitemap Checks:

What is a video XML sitemap?

Video sitemaps help search engines quickly find video content to index it for optimised searches.

If you create video content at all, you’ll want to include a video sitemap. It will help you rank in Google, and is an easy way to boost organic traffic.

How can I check if my site has a video XML sitemap?

  • Visit yoursite.com/sitemap_video.xml, to check if you have one listed
  • In Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.
  • Use this tool to generate a video sitemap.
  • Submit your video sitemap in Google Search Console, (Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap).

9. Image XML Sitemap Check

What is an image XML sitemap?

An Image XML sitemap helps search engines more easily identify the content of an image and index it for image searches. 

Image XML sitemaps are important because, depending on the search term, some people may bypass organic results for image results. If your image isn’t findable in image searches, you will be missing out on valuable organic traffic.

How can I check if my site has an image XML sitemap?

  1. Similar to video XML sitemap checks, visit yoursite.com/sitemap_video.xml to see if you have one listed.
  2. In Google Search Console, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.
  3. Use this tool to generate an image sitemap.
  4. Submit your video sitemap in Google Search Console, (Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap).

10. Pagination Checks

What is pagination?

Pagination refers to HTML commands, such as “rel = prev” and “rel = next”, on content that runs on multiple pages but should be treated as one. For example, your blog might have multiple pages as you create content (yoursite.com/blog/2).

Pagination tags can be used on the “Next page” and “Previous page” links to alert search engines. This also applies to eCommerce websites with multiple product pages and longer guides broken down into multiple pages.

Pagination tags can help avoid duplicate content penalties and low indexation rates.

11. Custom 404 Page Checks:

What is a 404 page?

A 404 page alerts users to a broken link on your site, without bouncing them off your domain. This gives them the chance to start over on your website without leaving.

If you remove content from your site, and you don’t yet have new content to redirect it too, a 404 page is best to alert users of the removal and to give them the option to navigate to other pages.

How can I check if I have a 404 page?

Try typing in a random slug into your URL, such as yoursite.com/kljsdlkjrg and see where you are directed to.

If you don’t find one, you should get one implemented ASAP! 404 pages can include branded designs, internal links and more information for users, it’s also your chance to show your brand’s personality.

12. Subdomain Checks

What is a subdomain?

Subdomains are extensions of your root domain that can be used for many purposes, including:

  1. Setting up a blog – blog.yoursite.com
  2. Testing offline content before pushing it live – staging.yoursite.com
  3. Accessing private content, such as tools, webinars, or training – tools.yoursite.com

Subdomains are essential to consider during SEO strategy. For example, a blog subdomain should be set to index, and have its own set of directives and a robots.txt for better indexation. However, a staging site should be set to “no follow” to avoid duplicate content penalties.

How can I check my website’s subdomains?

Easily check your site’s subdomains by using this free tool.

Conclusion

Performing findability checks on your website should send you well on your way to increased visibility and improved rankings. 

Tecmark is an SEO agency in Manchester that specialises in all areas of technical SEO. If you need help maximising your website’s performance, including site speed optimisationwebsite migrations, or in-depth technical audits, get in touch with our friendly team to see how we can help.

Lydia Rutter
Lydia Rutter
Lydia Rutter is an SEO Executive at Tecmark who joined us in 2019. She has a degree in Public Relations from the University of Oklahoma, and an MSc in Digital Marketing from the University of Salford. She brings us experience in digital marketing for the medical and healthcare industry, and in agency settings.

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