Google Offers 3 Tips For Checking Technical SEO Issues

Google published a video offering three tips for using search console to identify technical issues that might be causing indexing or ranking problems.

Three Tips For Troubleshooting Technical Issues

Google’s three tips for troubleshooting technical issues are:

  1. Check if page is indexed or indexable
  2. Check if page is duplicate or if another page is the canonical
  3. Review rendered HTML for code related issues

1. Is URL Indexable?

A common issue that’s easy to overlook but important to check is if the URL is can be indexed.

The Google search console URL inspection tool is great for troubleshooting if Google has indexed a page or not. The tool will tell you if a page is indexed and whether it’s indexable. If it’s not indexable then it will offer a suggestion for why Google might be having trouble indexing it.

Another data point the URL offers is the last crawl date which offers an idea of how much interest Google has in the page.

That said, if page doesn’t tend to change often then Googlebot may decide to crawl it less. This is not a big deal. It just makes sense in terms of conserving resources at Google and on the target web server.

Lastly, the URL inspection tool can be used to request a crawl.

2. Check If Ignored Because It’s Duplicate And Other Page Is Getting Indexed

Google next recommends checking if a page is a duplicate or if another page is the canonical.

The video suggests that it’s generally fine if another page is selected as the canonical.

It explains:

“The next thing to check after crawling is if it’s been ignored as a duplicate and the canonical URL is on another one most of the time this is fine.

Even if this might not be the canonical URL you expected, the content is indexed and will be able to show up in search results, so this is generally fine.”

Bonus Tip: Google cautioned against using the cache or site:search operator for any kind of diagnostic purposes. For example, a page can be indexed but not show up in a site:search.

The site search operator, just like all the other site operators, is completely disconnected from the search index. This has always been the case, even when there was a site search operator for showing backlinks.

Google advises:

“Don’t use cache or site search operators and features because they are not meant for debugging purposes and might give you misleading outcomes when trying to use it in debugging.”

3. Check Rendered HTML For Anomalies

The last tip is pretty good. Google advises that checking the HTML via the source code is not the same as checking the rendered HTML.

Rendered means the HTML that is generated for the browser or Googlebot to generate the webpage.

If you’re trying to figure out whether there’s something going on with the HTML, it’s useful to check out the rendered HTML because that’ll show you what the browser and Googlebot are actually seeing at the code level.

The difference between source code HTML and rendered HTML is that the rendered variant shows you what the HTML looks like after all of the JavaScript has been executed.

So, if there’s an issue related to the JavaScript or something else, you’re more likely going to catch that by reviewing the rendered HTML.

Google advises:

“…check the rendered HTML and the HTTP response to see if there’s something you won’t expect.

For example, a stray error message or content missing due to some technical issues on your server or in your application code.”

See Rendered HTML With Search Console

Google Support has a step by step for viewing the rendered HTML in search console:

“Inspect the URL, either by entering the URL directly in the URL Inspection tool, or by clicking an inspection link next to a URL shown in most Search Console reports.

Click Test live URL > View tested page.

The HTML tab shows the rendered HTML for the page.”

See Rendered HTML With Chrome DevTools

Chrome DevTools (in your Chrome browser) can also be used to see the rendered HTML.

  1. Open the Chrome Dev Tools through the vertical ellipsis (three dots) drop down menu, then:
  2. More tools > Developer tools
  3. Then, for MacOS, press Command+Shift+P and for Windows/Linux/ChromeOS press Control+Shift+P in order to access the Command Menu.
  4. Type: Rendering, select the menu choice “Show Rendering”

After that Chrome DevTools shows you the rendered HTML in the bottom window, which can be grabbed with the mouse cursor and enlarged, like in the screenshot below.

Three Tips For Debugging Technical Issues

There are many technical issues that can get in the way of indexing and rankings and even more ways to identify and fix those issues.

Fortunately Google makes it easy to debug technical issues with the tools provided by Search Console and Chrome DevTools.

Watch the Google Search Central Video:

3 tips for debugging technical problems in Google Search

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