If you're unable to find your website listed in Google's organic results, it may be deindexed. Indexing is necessary to attract search traffic. Your website can only attract traffic from Google's organic results if it's indexed. The indexing status of your website can change, however. Even your website was previously indexed, Google may deindex it.
Deindexing is the partial or complete removal of a website from the search engine results pages (SERPs). To process users search queries, Google relies on a massive database. Known as an index, it contains all of the information about the websites that Google has crawled. Google will refer to this database to serve relevant organic results to its users.
When deindexed, Google will remove some or all of your website's pages from its index. Regardless of search query, users won't be able to find the deindexed page or pages in Google's organic results. Deindexing means that Google will remove information about your website from the database it uses to serve organic results. Once the information about apage is removed, it will no longer rank or otherwise appear in Google's organic results.
Google deindexes websites for a variety of reasons, most of which involve severe violations of its search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines. Google has rules that webmasters must follow in order to rank in its organic results. Some of these rules are simply general recommendations, whereas others are strict requirements. Severe SEO guideline violations occur with the latter type. If you don't follow an explicit requirement in Google's SEO guidelines, your website may be de-indexed.
The use of hidden text, for instance, is considered a severe violation. Hidden text refers to any section of text that's visible to search engines but not visitors. Formatting a section of text with the same font color as the background will make it hidden. Google views the use of hidden text as a form of manipulation, so it regularly deindexed website for this reason.
Participating in backlink schemes is another severe violation that merits deindexation. A backlink scheme is any method of building one or more backlinks that's designed to artificially raise a website's organic rankings. Buying dofollow backlinks, exchanging an excessive number of links with other websites, large-scale guest blogging or article creation and distributing link-embedded templates are all considered backlink schemes.
SEO guideline violations aren't the only reasons Google de-indexes websites. It may deindex websites to satisfy legal requirements as well. Google might operate on the internet, but it's still bound by the law. If a particular type of content is illegal in a certain region, Google may deindex pages containing it for users in that region. Alternatively, pages that have been flagged for copyright violations -- through the submission of a Digital Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) -- may be deindexed.
Another reason Google deindexes websites is to comply with the noindex tag. Available as a meta tag or a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) response header tag, the noindex tag tells Google not to index a page. It won't prevent Google from crawling the page. Rather, the noindex tag will only stop Google from indexing the page. And if the page has already been indexed, adding the noindex tag to it may cause Google to deindex to it.
If your website has been deindexed, you should respond by trying to find out the reason. Only then will you be able to correct the problem so that Google reindexes your website.
You can often find the reason for deindexation by checking your Google Search Console (GSC) account. For most instances of de-indexation attributed to an SEO guideline violation, Google will use this platform to notify webmasters. Maybe Google believes you've been participating in a backlink scheme, or perhaps it found hidden text while crawling your website. If Google has de-indexed your website because it violated one of its SEO guidelines, Google will leave a detailed notification in your GSC account.
Severe violations are referred to as manualactions. Under the "Security and Manual Actions" menu in GSC, you can find notifications left by Google for severe violations. Each notification will explain the type of violation, the pages of your website it affects and how to correct the violation. Once you've performed the necessary corrective action revealed in the notification, you can ask Google to take another look at your website.
Assuming you don't have any violation-related notifications in your GSC account, you should audit your website for no indextags. It only takes a single noindex tag to prevent Google from indexing a page. Google generally won't index any page that features a noindex tag.
There are two types of noindex tags: noindex meta tags and noindex HTTP response header tags. You can audit your website for noindex meta tags by viewing the source code of its pages. Like all other metatags, noindex meta tags are placed in the head area at the top of a page's source code. After pulling up a page's source code in your web browser, use the search function to search for the word "noindex." A noindex meta tag at the top of the page's source page will prevent Google from indexing it.
To audit your website for noindex HTTP response header tags, though, you'll have to inspect your site's headers. HTTP headers aren't displayed in a page's source code, so they are more difficult to audit. Fortunately, there's a tool at seositecheckup.com/tools/noindex-tag-test thatallows you to scan pages for both types of noindex tags. If a page has either type of noindex tag, the tool will reveal it. Removing the noindex tag will then allow Google to reindex the page.
Finding out that your website has been de-indexed by the world's largest and most prominent search engine is frustrating. Even if it only affects part of your website, the deindexed page or pages won't rank. You can get your website reindexed by Google, though, by addressing the underlying cause. For SEO guideline violations, you'll need to follow the steps described in Google's notification. For noindex tags, you'll need to remove them from your website's pages.