Communities can be a huge source of web traffic. Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and StackOverflow generate millions of pageviews each month from Google. Even niche communities such as IndieHackers receive thousands of visitors every day!
This doesn't mean you need millions of members to get your community content indexed. Any website can add its pages to Google’s index as long as they meet the search engine’s requirements.
Often you won’t have to do anything for Google to index your site. The search engine’s crawlers will discover your content organically.
But taking the passive route to search indexing can be slow. And the search engine may not find all your posts.
If you want to speed things up, here are some tips that show how to index your community on Google faster.
Why index your community?
Indexing your community means adding its pages to Google’s database. Once indexed, Google can show your content in the search engine results pages (SERPS).
There are two main reasons to index your community on Google.
The first is so you show up for branded keywords. This means people will find your community when they search for it.
The screenshot below shows an example when you search for the ConvertKit community on Google.
The second reason is to increase your brand’s reach.
By indexing your community content, you’ll increase the number of keywords you show up for. It’s a powerful digital marketing strategy because people will find your community when searching for relevant terms.
The screenshot below is a good example of the latter point. The Pipedrive community post ranks number one in the Google search results for a question customers may struggle with.
How long does it take to index a community?
The time Google takes to index a community depends on multiple factors. These include the community, the domain, and the content.
Google typically doesn't take long to index new websites or pages. It could take anything from a few minutes to a few weeks.
And in rare cases, Google may not index certain pages of a community at all.
Indexing isn’t the same as ranking
There’s also a big difference between a page being indexed and actually showing up on the first page of Google.
If Google decides that other content answers the searcher query better, it will show other pages instead of your pages.
How to Index Your Community on Google Faster: 10 Tips
Check whether your community is already indexed
Before starting, it’s worth confirming that your community isn’t already indexed.
The easiest way to do this is to search Google using the shortcut “site:[your community URL].com”
This will highlight all the pages in the community that Google has indexed.
If you see results here, then at least some of your pages are already indexed. If you don’t, you need to take steps to index it.
Create a Google Search Console account
Whether your site is already indexed or not, you should sign up for Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).
This is a free Google tool that provides a ton of information about your website’s search performance. It also helps solve any potential indexing issues you may have. It’s a great companion to Google Analytics to help you learn more about your website.
Setting up the tool is easy. Just choose one of the verification methods to prove that you own the website. This is a good guide that goes through the various ways to set up your account.
Confirm your Subdomains
If your community is on a subdomain of your regular website, check that the subdomain is included in the Search Console property. This may not be the case, depending on the method used to verify your site.
Add your community sitemap
Once you have set up Google Search Console, you should add a sitemap.
This is a file that contains a blueprint of all the pages on your new site and how they are related. It helps Google crawl and then index your pages.
Sitemaps aren’t essential to indexing as Google can add your pages to its database without one. But, they can help communities because these sites often have many pages, and by including pages in the sitemap you can tell which pages are important.
Dynamic sitemaps are important for communities, as they will automatically update whenever pages are added or removed from your site.
Adding a sitemap to Search Console is easy. Just click on “Sitemaps” in the “Index” menu and then enter the sitemap URL in the form.
One of the great things about Search Console is that it shows precisely how many pages are indexed on your website.
You can find information related to your site’s indexing by clicking “Coverage” in the “Indexing” section of Search Console.
Here you’ll see how many pages are indexed, how many pages aren’t indexed, and any pages that have issues. You can then click on each report to see which pages fall into each category.
Don’t panic if you see a lot of non-indexed pages—there are many legitimate reasons for Google not to include content.
For example, a single community article may appear on multiple slightly different URLs. You don’t want this duplicate content to be on Google, so it's good that it isn’t indexed.
Click on the report to see the non-indexed pages and decide whether you want them to be indexed or not.
Fix any errors
Search Console also highlights errors that could lead to indexing issues. You can see problems in the same report as in the point above.
If you see any errors, click the “Details” tab to find out more. This shows how many pages are affected and examples of the pages. It will also tell you what the error is and provide information about how to fix it.
Once you’ve solved the issue, you can ask Google to validate the fix within Search Console. Google will then run some tests to check your solution and, if successful, it will remove the error from your account.
This process can take a few days or longer, depending on the number of affected pages.
Other issues in Search Console
When looking for issues in Search Console, you may find other, non-indexing related problems that can affect how your website ranks. For example, you may have problems with mobile usability or your page’s Core Web Vitals.
It’s a good idea to solve these issues to improve your search performance, even though they aren’t related to indexing.
Index individual pages
Once you have Search Console and your sitemap up and running, Google will automatically index new community posts.
But you can speed things up by using Search Console’s “Request Indexing” feature.
To do this, copy the URL of the new pages you want to index and search for them using the URL inspection tools in the search bar.
This feature provides more information about the page, including whether it is indexed and any potential issues.
If the web page is in Google’s database, you’ll see a message like the one in the screenshot below.
If the page isn't indexed, you can use the “Request Indexing” feature to ask Google to add the page to its database. Google will then add it to the indexing queue. This process typically takes less than a day or two, although it can take longer.
Check for noindex rules
If your community still isn’t indexed on Google after following the above steps, your pages may have a noindex tag.
A noindex tag is code added to pages on a website that tells Google’s crawlers not to add them to the search engine’s database.
People typically use this feature when they have content that they don’t want to appear in search engines. Communities may noindex user profiles to keep them private. It’s also possible to noindex types of content or specific pages.
Issues occur if you use this tag incorrectly. While it’s hard to accidentally noindex pages manually, some tools and plugins have features that simplify the process. Sometimes people turn this option on during setup without quite understanding what it does.
You can see if your community has pages with the noindex tag by viewing excluded pages in the Search Console “Coverage” tab.
If your community has excluded pages that you want to index, you just have to remove the tag from the pages.
You can do this manually by editing your website’s robots.txt file. Or you can find the tool that sets the pages as noindex and then change the settings.
Adding backlinks is another way to index a page faster because the Googlebot will see the link and follow it to your page. Adding links can also improve the ranking of an already indexed page.
There are two types of links:
Internal links, which are those that originate on pages on your website
External links, which are those that originate from other pages on the web
Internal links are much easier to add as you control the content on your website. It’s easy to add links in pages you have created to the pages you want to index.
As well as adding links to individual pages, you should have a good internal linking structure throughout your website. You can add category, menu, and header/footer links to content in both your community and website. Apart from linking the community in the website footer, Bettermode's web pages have community posts directly linked.
External links are harder to attract because you can’t control what other sites publish. But these referrals can significantly impact your ranking. This is because Google considers links from other websites to be like a vote of confidence for a particular site.
Link building is a complex topic and is too complicated to cover in a small section. This article on Backlinko gives a good overview of the topic.
The key takeaway is that if you decide to build external links, you should make sure that you only do so on authoritative websites that publish high-quality content. Avoid sites like low-quality directories.
Feeds are great because they get updated automatically as new content gets posted in your community. This can give a signal to search engines to crawl and index the new content.
This technique was suggested by Neil Patel! When you receive traffic to your community, Google Analytics can act as yet another source of the signal that your community is active. This in turn may prompt the Google bot to index your pages.
Next steps: Optimize your community for SEO
If you’ve followed all the above steps, your community should be indexed on Google. Or at the very least, you should know what steps you have to take to fix any website indexing issues.
But, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will be generating a lot of organic traffic to your community. As we mentioned in the first section of this article, indexing on Google and showing up on the first page of the search engine are two completely different things.
The question then, is how can you increase your rankings?
Quality content, amazing UX, and maturity will help over time. Google is unlikely to rank a new blog, website, or community highly. But as your community matures, the search engine will learn more about it and start to push you up the search engines.
You can also optimize your community for search engine traffic. Commonly used practices are optimizing titles, meta tags, and improving how fast your community pages load.