I was recently approached for SEO advice in something I can’t say I have ever done before. The email started as, “I need to interview an SEO expert to understand something that has been happening with a city website.”
As I quickly discovered, the investigator was looking for information about the City of Tucson in Arizona. According to her, the city was holding a community-based budget meeting where people were encouraged to join virtually through Zoom. However, the city did not instruct people on how to sign up for the meeting or where to find the Zoom link.
When it came down to it, the city published a page with the registration link, but failed to share it on social media or tell Tucson’s residents about it. The city expected people to find the page naturally in Google. But the URL was not indexed in time and led to a number of unhappy Tucson residents.
This is why the news channel (KVOA) needed a Tucson SEO expert to comment on the situation.
What Really Happened
In Google or any search engine for that matter, time is required to properly crawl and index a webpage. Search engine crawlers read the internet on a 24/7 basis, but they don’t always get to every single page. We try to tell clients, “if you publish a page today, don’t expect it to show up in Google for at least a week if not more.” Google requires time to understand the page and decide if it should be indexed in results. The algorithm looks at other factors as well, including internal and external links, XML sitemaps and the content of page itself. If it seems like a popular piece of content, there’s a good chance it will be indexed and available to searches in a relatively short amount of time.
In the case of the City of Tucson’s issue, they had no other SEO signals about the page. It was simply a page with a registration link and had no other context. The city’s site is also missing SEO vitals like a robots.txt file and XML sitemap. Additionally, the page had no links pointing to it. We call this an “orphan” page because it has no other visible relationship with the rest of the website. With no way to find it and no signals about the page, there’s no way Google is going to find it quickly.
The Remedy for Indexation Issues
A great remedy for indexation issues is as simple as setting up a website with Google Search Console. The tool is 100% free from Google and shows you what is happening when Google reads your site. If you do create a new page that needs to be indexed in a timely manner, you simply need to “fetch” it from with Google Search Console. This adds it to Google’s queue and your chance of getting it indexed go up significantly.
You’ll also want to set up an XML sitemap for your website in Google Search Console. This is yet another way for Google to understand the depth of a website and which pages it should crawling.
Check out the article on https://kvoa.com/news/n4t-investigators/2021/04/08/n4t-investigators-town-hall-troubles/.