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Does Index Bloating Seriously Affect SEO of Your Website? 7 Ways to Fix It

As an SEO professional, despite investing significant time in optimizing new content, you may still find yourself falling short of your ranking expectations. Often, this shortfall can be attributed to an overlooked yet potent threat: index bloating.

Index bloating poses challenges for both search engines and website owners alike. It complicates the task of search engine algorithms in discerning valuable content, resulting in fewer site crawls. Moreover, it obscures high-quality content beneath less valuable pages, thereby diminishing the visibility and overall ranking potential of your website.

It is said that Google crawls 8.9 million pages per day. With such a high crawling rate, it cannot crawl all the pages of your website. That is why index bloating is considered an important aspect of your website. Read on to know more about this phenomenon. 

What is Index Bloating?

Index bloating refers to the accumulation of excessive or irrelevant pages in a search engine’s index. These pages may include duplicate content, thin or low-quality content, paginated pages, search result pages, and other similar types of content that provide little value to users. When search engines index these pages, they consume resources and may dilute the overall quality of a website’s index. 

Search engines allot a specific crawl budget for each site scan. Index bloating squanders valuable crawl budgets, leading to less efficient indexing. Consequently, it can detrimentally affect your technical SEO metrics, rankings, and overall user experience.

In essence, index bloating occurs when the number of pages indexed far exceeds the quality and utility of those pages. 

index bloating

This phenomenon is particularly prevalent on e-commerce platforms, where vast catalogs containing hundreds of thousands of products, categories, and customer reviews contribute to index bloating. Your site’s index can become bloated for various reasons, including:

  • Thin content: Pages with limited or poor-quality content offer little value to users and may be perceived as low-quality by search engines. However, they can still be indexed, particularly if they are auto-generated or leftover from site updates.
  • Duplicate or near-duplicate content: When multiple pages across your website contain identical or highly similar information accessible through different URLs, search engines may index them all, leading to duplicate content issues.
  • Faceted navigation and parameters: E-commerce platforms and similar sites with faceted navigation often generate numerous URL variations based on filters, sorting options, etc. This results in numerous near-duplicate pages being indexed unnecessarily.
  • Media pages: Excessive image galleries and video collections lacking proper metadata can contribute to index bloating.
  • Tag pages and archives: While these pages aid in organizing content, they may lack unique value and can contribute to index bloating if not managed effectively.
  • Missing robots.txt files: The robots.txt file, situated at the root of a website’s domain, instructs web crawlers on which pages should and should not be indexed. When this file is missing, search engine bots may crawl and index pages that should be excluded, thereby contributing to index bloating.

Impact on SEO

index bloating
  1. Dilution of Page Authority: Index bloating can dilute the overall authority of a website by spreading link equity across numerous low-quality pages. This dilution diminishes the ability of high-quality pages to rank good in search engine results pages (SERPs).
  2. Keyword Cannibalization: With an excess of indexed pages, there’s a higher likelihood of keyword cannibalization, where multiple pages compete for the same keywords. This can significantly confuse search engines and hinder the ranking potential of individual pages.
  3. Crawl Budget Waste: Search engine crawlers allocate a finite amount of time to crawl a website. Index bloating consumes this crawl budget inefficiently by prioritizing the indexing of low-value pages over essential pages, impacting the overall crawl efficiency.
  4. User Experience: Users may encounter irrelevant or low-quality pages in search results due to index bloating, leading to a poor user experience. This can give rise to higher bounce rates and lower user engagement, further affecting SEO performance.

How to Identify Index Bloating? 

Identifying index bloating involves evaluating the total number of indexed pages on your website. To accomplish this, navigate to Google Search Console and access the Index Coverage Report.

index bloating

This report offers crucial index coverage insights, including:

  1. The total number of pages indexed by Google, encompassing those displayed in its search results database.
  2. The current indexing status of each page.
  3. Crawl activity details, indicating whether Google’s bots have recently visited each URL to assess its content.

To gauge the presence of index bloating, compare the number of “Valid” pages with the desired quantity indexed and submitted in your sitemap. A significant disparity suggests potential index bloating. Additionally, monitor overall crawl activity and be alert to unexpected spikes, which could signify excessive crawling of low-quality pages.

Mitigating Index Bloating

  1. Content Audit 

Conduct a comprehensive content audit to identify and remove low-quality or redundant pages from the website. This includes eliminating duplicate content, thin content, and pages with little to no organic traffic.

  1. Canonicalization

Incorporate canonical tags within the header section of your pages (<link rel=”canonical” href=”<URL of the original page>) to signal search engines, like Google, about preferred pages for indexing. 


This not only averts the indexing of duplicate pages but also consolidates link equity, channeling it toward the primary page for enhanced ranking potential. 

  1. Noindex Tag

Utilize the “noindex” meta tag to instruct search engines not to index certain website pages, such as paginated pages, internal search result pages, or other non-essential content.

  1. Robots.txt

By adjusting the robots.txt file to include the “disallow” directive, instruct search engines on which pages to refrain from crawling. 


This proactive measure prevents unwanted pages from entering the index queue, facilitating the removal of pages as a collective entity. Moreover, it aids in optimizing the crawl budget by freeing resources from low-value content.

  1. Internal Linking 

Evaluate the internal linking structure of your website to identify pages that exhibit low quality, redundancy, or obsolescence. Eliminate internal links leading to such pages to prevent search engine crawlers from indexing them. Redirect internal link equity towards essential pages to enhance their indexing and boost their potential for higher rankings.

  1. HTTP Status Codes

To bolster site authority and mitigate 404 errors caused by thin content, employ 301 redirects to steer users towards relevant content on the site. Use can use a plugin “Redirection” on your website to mitigate these errors.

redirection tool

This strategy preserves the value of backlinks and minimizes user frustration. For content deemed no longer relevant, swiftly remove it from search engine indexes by utilizing an HTTP status code of “410.”

  1. URL Removal Tools 

Utilize the URL Removals Tool available in Google Search Console to request the removal of specific pages from search results if you are confident that they were erroneously indexed and should not be displayed. Similar tools may also be available for other search engines. Check out the video below on how to use this tool. 


Index bloating can have detrimental effects on a website’s SEO performance and crawlability. By understanding the causes and consequences of index bloating and implementing proactive measures to mitigate its impact, website owners can improve their chances of ranking good in search engine results and providing a positive user experience. Routine monitoring and optimization are essential to maintaining a lean and efficient website index.


How long does it take to see improvements after implementing fixes for index bloating?

The timeline for seeing improvements can change depending on factors such as the size of your website, the severity of the index bloating, the frequency of search engine crawls, and the effectiveness of your implemented fixes. In some cases, you may see improvements within weeks, while in others, it may take months for significant changes to be reflected in search engine rankings and traffic.

What ongoing maintenance is required to prevent index bloating in the future?

Regularly monitor your website’s indexation status using tools like Google Search Console, conduct periodic content audits to identify and address index bloat issues, stay informed about SEO best practices and search engine algorithm updates, and continually optimize your website’s content and structure to ensure relevance and quality.

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