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Why are the product pages on your e-commerce site not indexed by Google?

Why are the product pages on your e-commerce site not indexed by Google?
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What are the possible causes of this problem?

There are many reasons for this, they can mostly be divided into two categories:

  • poor scanning efficiency
  • duplicate content

a) Your sitemap is not optimized or outdated

Non-optimized XML sitemap — an outdated sitemap can prevent discovery of new unlinked pages. In this case, the existing sitemap will need to be cleaned to only include code pages with status 200 and new pages.

E-commerce platforms like Shopify are often criticized for poor sitemap structure and lack of sitemap detection by search engines due to the way they are set up. Sometimes the best solution is to implement a custom-built automated sitemap generation tool and redirect the Shopify-developed sitemap URL to a custom URL where your custom-built sitemap is hosted as Google recommends.

b) You don't have breadcrumb navigation on a large site.

The absence of breadcrumb links on a large site without schema markup and internal link structures limits the search engine’s discoverability of new pages and evaluation of site structure.

c) URLs are JavaScript-heavy

Let’s say product pages and all metadata are unique. Then it might be a rendering issue. Google sometimes has a hard time parsing JS-heavy content.

d) Robots.txt blocks access to pages

Robots.txt is blocking access to pages or accidentally de-indexing parts of the website. This can be checked using a browser, Deepcrawl, Screaming Frog to check the indexability of pages.

e) You have index bloat

Check index bulge. There may be excessive indexing issues causing poor scanning efficiency. On an e-commerce site, this is often caused by pages being indexed with dynamic parameters. These are filters that are usually available to users on category pages or multi-directional navigation.

Another way the same issue can arise is to have paginated views of the same page (for example, product category catalog pages).

f) .htaccess server file is poorly configured

If your site is running on Apache Servers, the .htaccess server file may not be configured properly, causing rendering issues that interrupt certain pages from loading. Check for typos, rule location, conflicting htaccess files, and incorrect syntax.

Another server-related issue that can cause indexing errors is the domain’s DNS, which can prevent Googlebot from accessing and indexing the page.

e) The content is almost similar across all your product pages.

Duplicate content issues are common. If the products on the site are similar except for only minor changes in the name, Google may remove these pages from the index.

In this case, it is best to implement product schema markup and provide products with unique product descriptions and sufficient title variations, as well as change the page structure and dynamic content systems on the pages. This can be achieved through text automation, machine learning, or templated content structures using models such as GPT3.

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