Make sure to delete or de index theme and design pages


Hi guys, and welcome to another edition of Zupo SEO Talk & Tea. 

Today's conversation, make sure to delete or de-index a theme or design pages for your website. And what that means is that, oftentimes, when you're finished designing a website, oftentimes designers and dev teams and they will have these left over or duplicate pages on the website. It's important to make sure you de-index or delete the pages that aren't needed.

But before I dive into that, let me introduce the tea we have today. Today we have a Pu'Er tea. If you've watched my other videos, a couple of weeks ago I was running out of the Pu'Er but luckily I have a second container of the Pu'Er so I'm very happy to be cracking this one open. Again, this is not a Kirkland thing. I just store my team in here. Pu'Er, again, is a fermented tea that's very popular with the Chinese community. And it's, essentially, I think the closest thing you're going to get to black coffee. Has a very dark liquid when brewing, and it just has that strong kick. So I drink this like pretty much every day.

But let's go ahead and get talking about what I just introduced, the topic. And the reason why this is important is a lot of people, when they're doing SEO, it'll usually start right after they're done building their website. That's very common. That makes a lot of sense, of course. Once you've finished the website, then you'll start doing SEO. But what can often happen is that designers and development teams, when they're building websites, they are usually working with different themes and templates. And because they're working with different themes and templates, they need to manage the theme and template, manage the technology they have available to them. And then third, try to achieve the designs that are being asked of them, whether by the client, or management, or ownership.

So saying all that, what can often happen with design is pages will be traded to be mock-ups and they'll be kind of duplicated here and there so they can show different versions of it, or they'll create one version here and one version there. Whatever it might be, it's the creative process. And whenever you have the creative process, there will be things everywhere. And that's not a bad thing by any means. I actually work very much the same way. But where this becomes important with SEO is, when the site is finished, oftentimes you'll have this beautiful website where everything looks great, you can navigate anywhere, and it looks good to the consumer. But under the hood, there can actually be some SEO things that need to be cleaned up that people often forget about.

What can often happen is designers and dev teams will often make, like I just said, duplicates of like the homepage to have different mock-ups. Now, the original homepage will be accessible to consumers but the ones that aren't will usually be shelved away. But what can often happen is if you have not told Google which is the real homepage, or what these different URLs mean, Google can still be indexing all the pages. And that means all your mock-ups and drafts that you've been creating that were originally just for you to kind of look at it as how it would look live or show to your team, they can now be indexed by Google. And the main issue is then you have a lot of bad or thin pages that you don't want Google to see, or can even be duplicate content, because then the pages have the same content here and there.

So the fix is pretty simple. One, on one hand, when you're designing and developing, just make sure you noindex everything while you're designing so that you can ensure that nothing will be picked up. And then when you launch the site, you index all the pages that are supposed to be indexed. So you can do it that way. And that's very effective because then it prevents any leakage of any pages that you didn't mean to have indexed. But you have to ensure that when you tell Google to index the site that you tell them the exact pages, you don't just tell them the whole site, because then they'll still index the pages that you don't want them to.

On the other hand, let's say you're already past that point and the site's already launched, where you can go is go into your CMS provider, whether it be WordPress or whatever it might be, go in there and find all the pages that were mock-ups or drafts and start de-indexing those... Oh, that's a bee, sorry... Even if you think that there's no way that that URL was picked up, you just want to be extra safe to ensure that it isn't. So what you can often do is a site search operator. So you can type into the Google search bar, site, S-I-T-E colon, and then your company's domain. It'll tell you every page that Google has indexed. And then there you can see what pages they've indexed and which ones they're indexing that you may not want.

So a very specific example of a client that I had, they had two homepages indexed for some reason. They had the normal .com, but then there was a .com/home. And the .com/home was exact same copy of the home page itself. So I had to go in and de-index that homepage, amongst other pages. So what you want to just make sure is that if you're doing SEO or you're the design and dev team, just ensure that you're checking that the pages that you were messing around with, and it's okay to have those, just make sure that Google's not indexing them. And if it's too late and they're already being indexed, just go back into the source code or your CMS provider and put to noindex it. And the next time Google crawls it, they'll remove it from their index.

So it's pretty simple and easy fix. Just ensure that you don't leave them there, because if you have too much of these thin pages or duplicate content, it can become an issue later if it adds up too quickly, and then your site looks like more duplicate content and thin content than anything else. And when you have a new website, you just don't want that really to happen, because you may actually have more thin pages than actual good quality pages. And you just want to make sure that Google understands, no, these are all just like rough drafts or design alternatives. This is the real site. These shouldn't be counted towards the index. And that will help your SEO in that it'll make your site look cleaner and Google will better understand what's going on.

And you have all these extra pages that don't really make sense. They seem like duplicates or alternates. Google doesn't really know what to do with all of these. Now, they might be able to guess the designs, but you just want to be extra careful, just de-index them, have your design team or your SEO go in there and audit everything that shouldn't be indexed by Google.

So hopefully that's helpful. It's something that a lot of people overlook and never actually fix. It's something that people just never get around to. Because it makes sense. Like you can't navigate each of those pages typically through the user navigation, but Google is still indexing them and that can cause SEO issues. So it is something that's worth cleaning up. So again, I encourage you, use a site search operator, site colon your domain, look at all the pages that are indexed and then start de-indexing or noindexing the ones that really shouldn't be there. So I'm going to go ahead and pour my tea. If you guys found that video valuable, please like and subscribe. I hope to see you guys again soon.

Thanks, everybody.

Jason Khoo

Jason is founder and CEO of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends catching up on reading and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.