Crawled But Not Indexed vs. Discovered But Not Indexed: Unraveling the SEO Enigma

In the ever-evolving world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there are numerous technical terms and concepts that website owners and digital marketers need to grasp to succeed in the digital landscape. Two such terms that often perplex individuals new to SEO are “Crawled But Not Indexed” and “Discovered But Not Indexed.” These terms refer to specific stages in the search engine’s process of processing and ranking web pages. In this article, we will delve into these concepts, exploring what they mean, why they matter, and how you can address them to enhance your website’s performance in search engine results.

Understanding the Basics

Before we dive into the nuances of Crawled But Not Indexed (CBNI) and Discovered But Not Indexed (DBNI), let’s establish a fundamental understanding of how search engines operate.

Search engines, like Google, employ automated bots, commonly referred to as “crawlers” or “spiders,” to explore the vast expanse of the internet and collect information about web pages. These crawlers follow links, read content, and index the data they find in massive databases. This indexing process is a critical step that allows search engines to serve relevant results to users when they perform searches.

When a web page is crawled, it means the search engine’s crawler has visited and analyzed the page’s content. However, being crawled does not guarantee that the page will appear in search results. This is where the distinctions between CBNI and DBNI become crucial.

Crawled But Not Indexed (CBNI)

What Does CBNI Mean?

When a web page is “Crawled But Not Indexed” (CBNI), it means that the search engine’s crawler has visited the page, but the page has not been deemed worthy of inclusion in the search engine’s index. In other words, the page has not made it into the search engine’s database of pages that can be displayed in search results.

Currently Not Indexed

Why Does CBNI Occur?

Several factors can lead to CBNI:

  1. Low-Quality Content: Pages with thin, duplicate, or irrelevant content are often crawled but not indexed because search engines prioritize valuable, unique, and informative content.
  2. Noindex Meta Tag: Webmasters can include a “noindex” meta tag in a page’s HTML code, instructing search engines not to index that specific page.
  3. Canonicalization Issues: Canonical tags help search engines understand which version of a page to index when multiple versions exist. If canonicalization is not properly implemented, it can lead to CBNI.
  4. Robots.txt File: The website’s robots.txt file may instruct search engines not to index certain pages or directories.

Impact of CBNI

CBNI can have a significant impact on a website’s visibility in search engine results. If critical pages, such as product pages or informative articles, are crawled but not indexed, they will not appear in search results. This can lead to missed opportunities for organic traffic and potential customers.

Discovered But Not Indexed (DBNI)

What Does DBNI Mean?

“Discovered But Not Indexed” (DBNI) refers to a stage in which a web page has been located or “discovered” by search engine crawlers but has not yet been indexed. In this scenario, the search engine knows of the page’s existence but has not decided whether it should be included in the index.

Why Does DBNI Occur?

DBNI can occur for several reasons:

  1. Fresh Content: New pages or recently updated content may take some time to be indexed as search engines prioritize existing, trusted content.
  2. Crawl Budget: Search engines allocate a finite “crawl budget” to each website, determining how frequently they will crawl its pages. If a website has many pages or frequent updates, some pages may be in the “discovered” state until they are crawled again.
  3. Duplicate Content: If a web page contains content similar to other indexed pages, search engines may delay indexing it to avoid redundancy in search results.
  4. Technical Issues: Technical issues such as server errors or slow loading times can hinder indexing.

Impact of DBNI

DBNI can affect the visibility of newer or updated content. Until a page is indexed, it will not appear in search results, potentially limiting its exposure to users.

Addressing CBNI and DBNI

Now that we understand what CBNI and DBNI are and why they occur, let’s explore strategies to address these issues and maximize a website’s visibility in search engine results.

1. High-Quality Content

To avoid CBNI, focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that meets user intent. Ensure your content is unique, informative, and relevant to your target audience. Avoid duplicate or thin content that may not be deemed worthy of indexing.

2. Proper Meta Tags

Use meta tags correctly. If you want a page to be indexed, ensure it does not have a “noindex” meta tag in its HTML code. Conversely, if you have pages that should not be indexed, use the “noindex” tag strategically.

3. Canonicalization

Implement canonical tags to address duplicate content issues and guide search engines on which version of a page to index.

4. Robots.txt File

Review your website’s robots.txt file to ensure it is not blocking critical pages from being crawled and indexed. Be cautious when disallowing pages, as it can lead to CBNI.

5. XML Sitemaps

Create and submit XML sitemaps to search engines. Sitemaps provide a list of pages on your site, making it easier for crawlers to discover and index your content.

6. Monitor Technical Health

Regularly monitor your website for technical issues that may hinder indexing, such as server errors or slow loading times. Address these issues promptly.

7. Patience and Consistency

Understand that DBNI can be a natural part of the indexing process, especially for new or updated content. Be patient, and continue to create valuable content consistently.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between crawling and indexing?

Crawling is the process where search engine bots visit and analyze web pages, while indexing involves adding these pages to the search engine’s database to appear in search results.

How long does it take for a page to be indexed after being crawled?

The time it takes for a page to be indexed varies. It can happen within minutes for some websites but may take days or even weeks for others.

Can I manually request indexing for a page?

Yes, you can request indexing through Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools, which can expedite the process for new or updated content.

What’s the impact of CBNI and DBNI on SEO performance?

CBNI and DBNI can limit a website’s visibility in search results, potentially leading to missed organic traffic and opportunities. Addressing these issues is crucial for SEO success.

How can I check if a page is crawled but not indexed?

You can use tools like Google Search Console or third-party SEO tools to identify pages that have been crawled but not indexed.

Is it possible for a page to be indexed without being crawled?

No, for a page to be indexed, it must first be crawled by search engine bots.

Can DBNI affect ranking?

Yes, DBNI can indirectly impact rankings by delaying the appearance of new or updated content in search results.

Are there any penalties for CBNI or DBNI?

Search engines do not penalize websites for CBNI or DBNI, but addressing these issues can improve a website’s SEO performance.

What should I do if a crucial page is CBNI or DBNI?

Review the factors that may be causing CBNI or DBNI, such as content quality, meta tags, or technical issues, and take appropriate actions to address them.

Is CBNI and DBNI the same for all search engines?

The principles of CBNI and DBNI apply to most search engines, but each search engine may have its own algorithms and criteria for indexing pages.


In the complex world of SEO, understanding the distinctions between Crawled But Not Indexed (CBNI) and Discovered But Not Indexed (DBNI) is essential for optimizing your website’s visibility in search engine results. By creating high-quality content, using proper meta tags, and addressing technical issues, you can enhance your website’s chances of being indexed and ultimately improve your SEO performance. Remember that patience and consistency are key in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, so continue to refine your strategies and monitor your website’s performance to achieve long-term success.

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