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Sep 11th, 2015

Google’s Index Estimation Update Coincides with an Index Status Report Bug

Google has revealed that they have updated their index count estimation formula (which approximates how many of a website’s pages have been indexed). They also confirm that the update was rolled out coincidentally around the same time that they had a glitch in their Index Status report.

On August 27, Barry Schwartz noted in Search Engine Roundtable that Google’s Index Status report (which is found in the Google Search Console) showed a “significant drop between August 16th and August 23rd”. This meant that the number of webpages that Google had indexed on a website had decreased. Many webmasters responded and said they noticed the same thing with their sites.

A Googleplex building in Mountain View, California

Image Credit: Travis Wise, CC BY 2.0

A sudden drop in the number of indexed pages is alarming because it can be a result of several problems. It can be an indication that your server is down or has been overloaded or that Google cannot access your content. It can also mean that you have issues with security or with your site’s configuration.

Schwartz reached out to Google and asked about the drop in index counts, and a spokesperson told him that it was not a bug but rather was a “more accurate estimation of how many pages Google is indexing.” However, when he checked the reports again, he noticed that the number of indexed pages had returned to normal.

Schwartz asked Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller about this in a Google Hangout on September 8. Mueller clarified that Google did make an adjustment to their index count estimation formula but their update coincided with a reporting glitch. This caused the index counts to suddenly go down then return to normal after a few days.

The bug seems to have been fixed, although webmasters must remember that Google has updated how they estimate websites’ index saturation and that this will be reflected in the Index Status report moving forward.

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Smart Traffic Blogger

A Digital Marketing Specialist at Smart Traffic. Keeping up with the latest advancements in all things SEO he is continually developing new campaigns to keep his clients ahead of the curve in online marketing.