In this video, we discuss what to do when you receive an email from Google Search Console. These emails usually mention an error (or multiple) that you need to correct, but knowing what to do next can be difficult, especially if you’ve never worked with Google Search Console (GSC) before. Let’s dive in and learn how to fix the most common Google Search Console errors!
First we’ll explain what Google Search Console actually does. Then, we’ll go through some of the most common errors and we’ll go through in a bit of detail on how to correct these. And then lastly, we’ll highlight some of the non-critical error errors that might come up.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a tool that helps website owners monitor and maintain their site’s presence in the Google search engine. With Google Search Console, you can check how Google sees your website, see which keywords are driving traffic to your site, and get alerts when there are errors or other issues that can affect your website’s visibility on Google.
Sometimes you’ll get emails from Google that will let you know about any issues or opportunities for improvement on your website. These notifications can be either critical or non-critical, but it’s important to understand that these alerts have nothing to do with the health or security of your website.
Instead, these alerts are simply about how your website is performing on Google search results. We’ll go through one of the most common notices, as well as two high priority or critical errors that you need to address. And finally, we’ll quickly go through some non-critical errors worth noting.
It’s important to understand that these alerts have nothing to do with the health or security of your website. Instead, these alerts are simply about how your website is performing on Google search results.
Common Google Search Console Errors
Crawled – currently not indexed
This error means that Google search robots, also known as “crawlers,” have found your website and processed it, but the information on your website is not currently being displayed in Google search results. To put it in simpler terms, imagine that Google search results are like a library with shelves and books. Google’s crawlers are like librarians who go around collecting information about all the books in the library.
However, just because the librarian has collected information about a book, it doesn’t mean that the book has been placed on a shelf for people to find and check it out. In the same way, just because Google’s crawlers have processed your website, it doesn’t mean that your website will display in Google search results. You have to remember, Google crawls billions of pages each day.
If you see this message, most of the time it means that Google just needs more time to process certain pages on your website for them to show on Google search results. However, sometimes this “crawled currently not indexed” message can lead to issues that you need to address. We’ll go through some of these shortly.
Not found – 404 (high priority)
The critical Google Search console message you might get is a 404 error. This means Google sees a link on your site that cannot be found as a physical page. Using the library analogy I mentioned earlier, imagine a library where all the books are neatly organized on the shelves according to their unique call numbers.
When you walk into the library and ask the librarian for a specific book, the librarian can easily direct you to the right shelf where the book is located. But what if the book is not on the shelf? The librarian would tell you that the book is not available, and you would leave the library empty handed (no one likes that!).
In the same way, a 404 page error occurs when a user tries to access a specific page on your website, but the page is not available or cannot be found. When this happens, Google responds with a 404 error code indicating that the requested page is missing. It’s important to address these 404 errors because they can negatively impact website traffic, SEO, and ruin the user experience.
Resolving a 404 error
Resolving a 404 error can depend on the circumstance. If the page has been deleted, you should set up a redirect going to your homepage or a page with similar content.
However, if you just use a different URL slug for page (for example you decided to change the slug for a page to something else), make sure that you set up a redirect going to the new URL slug. This way, users who try to access the old page will automatically be redirected to the new one.
In some cases, a 404 error may be caused by a mistake. If you accidentally deleted a page or set it to private, in this case, you should restore that accidentally deleted page or set that page from private to published again.
Finally, if it’s not a real page that’s picked up by the 404 error, you should set a redirect going to your homepage. For example, sometimes Google accidentally picks up pages that are meant to be internal pages. For this, you should set up a redirect for this specific page to go to your homepage. To set up redirects to fix your 404, see our step-by-step instructions in the video above at the (5:00) mark.
Excluded by non-index tag (high priority)
This is another high-priority or critical error that you’ll want to address. This error means Google is being told not to index certain pages on your website, which can be a big problem if you’re trying to get your website found in Google search results. If you get an error like this, it’s best to address it straightaway. See our step-by-step walkthrough on fixing this error on your WordPress website in the video above at the (8:10) mark.
You can follow those steps to tell Google to re-crawl the page and check that it’s been marked for indexing. Then, it will become discoverable on any Google search results.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that sometimes this is not an automatic fix. I would say this method works 75% of the time, but sometimes it doesn’t. You just have to be patient. Once you’ve requested indexing, it can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks and sometimes some months, unfortunately. Google crawls billions and billions of URLs each day so these updates can take time.
Duplicate, Google chose different canonical than user
This message means that Google has found multiple versions of the same content on your website, and it has picked a version that it thinks is the most relevant to show in search results, which is different from the version you specified as the right one.
As an example, let’s say your website has a page called “Consulting Services.” The page is accessible through multiple URLs, such as “yourwebsite.com/consulting-services”. And then there’s a second URL that’s very similar, but it’s “yourwebsite.com/consulting-services?index=1”.
Sometimes this happens in WordPress sites where a URL with some weird characters latches onto a proper URL and makes its way to Google. Google usually will only index the first one – the one with the proper URL to avoid any potential duplication issues. However, in the rare occasion that Google accidentally indexes the URL with the weird characters at the end (and it continues to happen repeatedly on your site), you will probably need to reach out to your website tech support team to investigate this further.
Page with redirect
This usually means there’s a specific page that has been redirected to another page. This is usually done deliberately because a page has been discovered through Google Search Console, but it shouldn’t be search-discoverable on Google Search Console.
For example, you’ve accidentally published a page called “Draft Services” that made its way into Google search results. After unpublishing the page (or deleting it if you don’t need it anymore), you would want to redirect that page to a more appropriate page.
This “page with redirect” error is just notifying you that this particular page has been discoverable, but it has still been redirected to another URL.
So what do you do when you see this error? Check to make sure that the page with the redirect is indeed being redirected to a proper page on your website.
Missing field “location” or “author” or some other term
This is another non-critical error. I will use an example to explain what this one means. Let’s say you have recipes on your website and usually your recipes include content, a photo, and an author listed, but one day you posted a recipe without a photo or the author name included. This can trigger a “missing field” error (in this case, to say the recipe is missing the author and photo).
It means Google is trying to ensure that information on your post is complete. The best recipes (according to Google apparently) have authors on them, so sometimes these GSC errors are showing that Google is checking for ways to improve websites where possible. However, sometimes you’ll read through the error and it won’t have anything meaningful that you need to address. Overall, this “error” is more of an improvement suggestion by Google, but most of the time it’s something you can probably skip by. And always make decisions for your website based on what’s best for you and your visitors!
What about other errors?
If you receive an email from GSC about some other kind of error not listed here, there will always been a link in that email. Click on the link from Google, then look for the ‘Help Article’ to see if that can help you. (Note: Sometimes the explanation can be very technical.)
You can also try Googling! Search “How to fix [copy and paste the name of the error]” and find an article or blog post that can give you guidance on how to fix it. If you’re having this issue, likely some else has too and has found a solution!
Fix Google Search Console Errors without the Stress!
We hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful, and at the least, come to understand that GSC errors are meant to be helpful, and are nothing to be concerned or overly worried about. Most of the time they are easy to resolve, and aren’t “website emergencies” you need to feel pressured to address ASAP. GSC is a great tool for ensuring your website is ranking well in Google search results!