Q and A: Why is my site showing as redirected in the Google Search Console?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I just checked my Google Search Console and under Crawl, Fetch as Google I see my site status is showing as redirected, with a yellow sign beside it!

What does that mean and how can I fix it,  please?



Hi Zara

First up, don’t panic. The *Fetch as Google* tool simply tries to imitate what Googlebot sees when it crawls your site code. It doesn’t mean that Google can’t index your site. If you are still seeing data in the Search Console relating to your site status, all is well. If there were major indexing issues, you would see errors in the Crawl Errors and Site Appearance categories.

As for WHY you are seeing a redirect status, without knowing your site URL, I can only guess. But I’m confident it will be one of these reasons:

1)  Domain canonicalization: Does your site load using both http:// and http://www. or does one version redirect to the other? Have you set a preferred domain in Google Search Console? To do this you need to set up views for both versions in Google Search Console and then set your preference. After you’ve done that, depending on which domain version you open within the Console, the *Fetch as Google* tool will show a different status.


1) Fetch as Google results for http://www.searchenginecollege.com

2) Fetch as Google results for http://searchenginecollege.com

2) Fetch as Google results for http://searchenginecollege.com

For example, to avoid duplicate content issues in Google, I have set a) http://www.searchenginecollege.com as my preferred domain in my Search Console, but I also have a Console view for b) http://searchenginecollege.com. On the server side, I have set the non www version to redirect to the www version. This is known by several names, including URL redirecting, domain masking, piggy-backing and parking. If I fetch a) as Google, I see the status as shown in the first image. If I fetch b) as Google, I see the yellow *redirected* status as shown in the second image.

This is likely what you’re seeing and it simply means you have set up your domain redirect correctly. Learn more about domain canonicalization and how to set your preferred domain.

2) 301 or 302 redirects: Have you recently switched domains? Although Googlebot follows redirects, the *Fetch as Google* tool does not. So if your site was originally set up in the Google Search Console as one domain e.g. http://www.siteA.com but has now moved to http://www.siteB.com and you set up a 301 or 302 redirect server side, then if you are looking at the original site view in the Console, it will show up as redirected in the crawl tool. You can inspect the HTTP response on the fetch details page to see the redirect details. Learn how to do this.

3) Moving to SSL:  If you have recently updated your site from http:// to https:// and you’re seeing *redirected* in the crawl status, you may have the same domain canonicalization issue as 1). So you need to set up a view for the https:// version of your site in Google Search Console. More info on SSL issues here and here.

Hope this helps!


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Q and A: How long will it take our site to be purged from Google?

QuestionHi Kalena,

It’s Tim here. I’m the developer for a website – [URL removed for privacy reasons] – and as of Thursday or Friday last week, Google has crawled my whole site. It shouldn’t have been able to do this, but it has.

Part of the site is written in PHP and Google has cached all the pages, several of which contain information that shouldn’t really be in the public domain.

I’ve submitted the FQDN to Google asking them to remove the URL which will hopefully prevent any results being shown in a Google search. The request is currently in a ‘pending’ state and I’m wondering how long this would actually take to be purged.




Hi Tim

I’ve not personally lodged a take down request with Google, so I’m afraid I’m not speaking from experience, however I’ve had colleagues tell me this can take up to 3 months if a site has already been crawled.

Your email doesn’t make it clear what happened, but it may also depend on how sensitive the content is and why it was indexed in the first place.

A couple of things you can do while you’re waiting:

1) If Google managed to crawl your whole site, you might have conflicting instructions in your robots.txt file, your robots meta tags on those pages or you might be including content you don’t want public in your sitemap.xml file that Google is indexing. Check all those areas so the problem doesn’t re-occur.

2) Ask Google to remove content through the Webmaster Search Console. This is often faster than the formal take down request you submitted via email. It requires you to verify ownership / admin of the site via the Search Console first.

Keep in mind that even after you’ve blocked the pages from being indexed, they can take a while to fall off the Google search results, depending on the number of data-centers that have cached them and where they are serving results from.

Best of luck!


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Mobile Friendliness Now a Google Ranking Signal

phone-cross-eyedThey’ve been warning us for a while, but Google have finally announced that mobile-friendliness will be added as a ranking signal next month:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results”

The fact they use the word *significant* is, well, significant. You don’t often see them give algorithm tweak announcements this kind of adjective emphasis. Normally, they’ll use vague phrases like “potential impact” or “quality improvements” or “Matt Cutts suggests”. So you can be sure that the forthcoming changes are going to be the source of panic attacks in webmasters the world over and late night Skypes for SEOs everywhere (yeah, thanks a lot Google).

Meanwhile, responsive WordPress theme designers will be rubbing their beards with glee at the prospect and adding more Threadless t-shirts to their wishlist.

So let’s assume for a moment that you have spent the last two years watching LOL cat videos on Facebook instead of making your website mobile friendly. Let’s also assume that your site has a scarlet letter displayed across it in the SERPs instead of the wanky desirable mobile-friendly banner issued by Google.

What can you do now to ward off the Google ranking oblivion heading your way? In the words of Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC.

Here’s a check list to start with:

  • Log out of Facebook. I mean it.
  • View your site on various mobile devices and try not to cry.
  • Don’t have multiple devices? That’s ok, QuirkTools have just the tool for you.
  • Check your site against Google’s mobile friendly test tool.
  • Pull yourself out of the foetal position and take a deep breath. You can fix this!
  • If your site is built on a popular CMS, Google will likely have a technical guide on their Developers site that can help guide you and/or your designer make your site more mobile friendly. For example, check out Google’s Technical Guide for WordPress users.
  • Browse the theme library of your CMS for a recent responsive design / mobile friendly theme that doesn’t make your wallet flinch or make you want to gouge your eyes out. This is a lot trickier than it sounds.
  • Log out of Facebook dammit!
  • Back up your current site and related database/s.
  • Make sure you choose a theme that uses largish font that can be viewed easily on the smallest of iPhones. You know, for those of us who can’t afford a iPhone 6.
  • Check all your favorite plugins to make sure they are mobile-friendly. You’d be surprised how many of them look great in IE 10 but entirely screw up how your site appears in Safari. Uninstall or replace those with plugins that don’t impact your site’s appearance.
  • Set your mobile viewport. Yeah, I’ve got no idea what this means either.
  • Make sure that your text links are separated by at least one line of text between each. Being too close together make them difficult to click on with a mobile device.
  • Underline your links and highlight them using a different color to your main text. But please don’t use hipster grey. That’s just the color of sadness.
  • If you’ve verified your site in Google Webmaster Tools (of course you have!), you can check your site’s Page Speed using the Page Speed Insights tool. Or you can use Google’s stand-alone version.
  • Make any page speed tweaks suggested by Google.
  • In my experience, your site should now look mostly normal across various devices, apart from a glitch that shoves your header 5cm to the right on Google Chrome for Android no matter what the heck you try. Thankfully no-one uses that browser.
  • Check your site against Google’s mobile friendly test tool again.
  • Repeat, Rinse, Repeat until you can live with the outcome of the test.
  • Log back into Facebook. Cute cat videos await!


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Q and A: Do I need to use rel=canonical to tell Google my preferred domain?

QuestionHello Kalena

I’ve been a reader of your blog for many years but have never submitted a question. Until now!

With Google’s recent changes to the algorithm, we have noticed a drop in traffic and rankings for our site (we sell ready-made crafting kits for kids). I suspect it might be related to duplicate content as I’ve been reading how Google will penalize sites that can be loaded with www and also without www. Our site loads for both addresses and I’m worried this means we have been penalized.

I also read that you can fix this issue by using coding called rel=canonical or something like that? I have looked into this briefly, but to be honest, although I’m responsible for the content of our site, I’m a sales and marketing person, not a programmer and I don’t think I have the coding knowledge to use this tool.

Is there a more simple way I can remove the duplicate pages or have our site load just with the www? Or will I need to pay our original web designers to fix this?

Thanks for any advice



Hello Sally

Sorry to hear of your traffic drop, but I highly doubt it is due to your site loading for both www and non-www versions of your domain. The algorithm changes over the past 18 months have been related to more complex issues than domain versions.

Even if Google has indexed both versions of your domain, the algorithm is almost always able to distinguish content that loads on both as one and the same. In this situation, Google will usually choose one version and consistently show that version in the search results.

But if you want to instruct Google which version to use in the search results, you can do this from within your Webmaster Tools account by setting the Preferred Domain (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain). The Preferred Domain tool enables you to tell Google if you’d like URLs from your site crawled and indexed using the www version of the domain (http://www.example.com) or the non-www version of the domain (http://example.com).

Simply click on the gear icon at the top right when viewing your Webmaster Tools dashboard and then choose *Site Settings* and the Preferred Domain option will come up as per the image here:

The recommended use of rel=canonical is on a page by page basis, to indicate to Google which version of a page URL to use, if there are several URLs leading to the same page content.

For example, imagine if these URLs all led to the same page content:

1) http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes/
2) http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes&id=72
3) http://www.blog.com/?p=12890

Now imagine that you only wanted 1) to be shown in Google search results. You could achieve this by adding the rel=canonical link element to the < head > tag of each of those pages, specifying http://www.blog.com/blue-suede-shoes/ as the preferred URL.

However, in your situation, the easiest thing would be to use the Preferred Domain tool in Webmaster Tools.

Hope this helps!


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Fast Five in Search – Week 15, 2014



Google’s head of spam fighting – Matt Cutts – posts regular videos on the Google Webmasters YouTube channel. His posts can make waves in the SEO industry like no other because they often preview upcoming changes to the Google algorithm. So this week’s Fast Five is a collection of Matt Cutt’s most popular webmaster videos of all time.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) How Does Google Search Work? – In this video, Matt explains how Google’s ranking and website evaluation process works from the crawling and analysis of a site, crawling time-lines, frequencies, priorities and filtering processes within the databases. With over 380,000 views, this is Matt’s most popular video in the Google Webmaster channel.

2) Does Google Use the Keyword Meta Tag? – After years of webmaster confusion over whether Google does or doesn’t index the content of the Meta Keywords tag, Matt put the rumor firmly to rest with this post by confirming that Google does NOT index the tag.

3) What Should We Expect in the Next Few Months in Terms of SEO for Google? – After months of Panda and Penguin algorithm tweaks, Matt thought it was time to set a few things straight and reveal a little more about what we might expect from future algorithm updates.

4) Canonical Link Element – When Google launched support for the Canonical Link Element, Matt took to video to introduce the element and the way it should be used for SEO benefit.

and finally…

5) What Are Some Effective Techniques for Building Links? – The fifth most popular Matt Cutts webmaster video involves the consistently difficult subject of link building. In this video post, Matt discusses several effective ways of building organic links that many webmasters overlook.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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