Yesterday, Google, on its Google Search Central YouTube channel, released the latest of the #AskGooglebot series of videos. This video series consists of a number of short videos where Google’s John Mueller answers one specific question having to do with webmasters’ concerns.
For this particular video, the question was:
“All of my URLs are indexed and when I check in Google one by one, the total # of URLs is 180. But in Google SERP, only 28 URLs show. Why is that?”
So, basically, even though the original question didn’t mention the search: operator, Mueller answered as though it did (which I guess means that he supposes that the person asking this knows about the search: operator).
“The short answer to this question is that a site: query is not meant to be complete, nor used for diagnostics purposes.”
But, let’s take a step back for a second…
Search Operators: What They Are
Why did I type the word site immediately followed by a colon (:)?
That’s because site: is something known as a search operator.
A search operator is basically a filtration command added to a search query that tells Google to return results that only meet the criteria defined by that operator.
I know that’s probably a bit of a techy definition, so I think this short video might better convey what I mean.
You can use more than one operator per search query.
Alright, now that you (hopefully) know what a search operator is, let me get back to Mueller’s response.
Part of what he went on to say was, “While using this query [site:] limits the results to a specific website, it’s not meant to be a comprehensive collection of all of the pages from that website.”
A More Accurate Alternative: Google Search Console
Mueller went on to say that if a person wanted to know how many pages (or URLs) Google has indexed, the Search Console would be a better choice. (Yes, it may be faster to do a quick site: query, but as he said, Console’s a better option.)
Is Indexing an Issue for You?
If it is, this tweet may be of interest. It’s basically an announcement pertaining to support for indexing issues.