Don’t panic over Google Search Console messages

Over the past month, the number of warning messages from Google Search Console seems to have increased exponentially, as I’m sure some of you will have noticed. Barely a day goes by without one of our clients asking us if the messages they’re getting are really a problem, and if the fixes are straightforward.

Now, you might think that if Google sends you a personal message saying something is wrong with your website, it should be taken seriously. And you’d be right. But remember that these things are all automated, and the real-life severity of two similar-looking warnings could vary wildly. For example, one common warning is that pages are being blocked by your robots.txt file. At one extreme, this could be a disaster. I’ve seen sites where designers added a robots.txt file telling Google not to index the site at all (because it was under construction) …but then they forgot to remove the file when the site was ready. On the other hand, you might have set up a robots.txt file to deliberately exclude part of your site (like admin files), so any warning is just a well-intentioned irritant.

So don’t panic too much about Google telling you something is amiss with your site. Investigate, of course. But it might not be the end of the world.