Fetch as Google: fix the common crawling problems and error messages

Google webmaster tools added to the “Fetch as Google” option to let site owners manage their blogs and sites easily, and submit their content manually to Google.

That’s helpful, especially, if they think that some of their pages are not indexed on the search page.

But sometimes, things can be complicated, especially, for beginners who get different types of error messages, such as the “temporarily unreachable” page. Or, in other cases, the page keeps refreshing without any test result and much more.

That’s not rocket science if you have total access to your site. You can see the probable things that cause the problem.

This post will show you the common problems with Googlebot errors and warnings, that you receive sometimes, and you can’t find a solution to fix them.

What’s Fetch as Google?

Fetching as Google is a way to show webmasters how the Googlebot access their sites, and how it sees their pages exactly as a crawler. So, they can optimize the page on that test, and see if something goes wrong with the test.

In your Google webmaster dashboard, you can access the testing tool, by clicking the “Crawl” menu, then, “Fetch as Google”, as the following screenshot.

fetch as google

The fetch as Google crawl limit is 500 pages per month. So, you can submit all your new posts, and you will never reach your limit in the majority of cases. This is an individual URL submission and only that page can be crawled.

The second option limit is the full home page fetch. In that case, you have a maximum of 10 tests per month. But, Googlebot will follow all the homepage links, and you end with more pages, and that takes more minutes to complete especially, with lots of content.

You can submit your page URL and let Google crawl it instantly, and give you the test result. You can also, use the “Fetch and render” option that will show you the page later when you click on it.

If you see the “pending fetch”, don’t worry about that. Sometimes, Google receives thousands of requests, at the same time, and the bots will not be able to access all these sites at the same time. So, they simply add your URL to the list, in general, crawlers will visit your site in a few minutes.

Temporarily unreachable page

In many cases, bloggers get this error message in their Webmaster tools dashboard. The good news is that you don’t have to worry too much about that unless you host your site with low-quality hosting service.

The message is clear and it means that your server is briefly down, or, the specified URL returns a 501 error, and that’s a server issue that you can’t solve on your part. Just wait a few minutes and test that page again, and see if you get a successful result.

fetch as google unreachable page

If you’re using free hosting, you will get that error the majority of the time, and you know that something for free will never help your business. So, it’s time to think about a premium hosting service for your WordPress blog or website.

I recommend WP Engine for its high-quality service and fast customer support. No more issues with your server, because the company has technicians that will manage the technical part of your hosting. You just need to create content and never worry about the server and the site speed.

If you’re using a security plugin such as Wordfence security or any other one, make sure that Googlebot can access your site and is not blocked.

The majority of plugins work fine, but sometimes things can work wrong. You can verify that by disabling all your plugins, and then wait one minute or so and test the URL again.

Continue that process for each plugin, until you find the one that blocks the Googlebot from accessing your site. If you still get the same error after all that, then, contact your hosting company for support.

If your site is new and you’ve submitted it once, make sure that you have your preferred domain name. You can set up that in your account, by following the above link. At the same time, make sure you’ve properly submitted your blog sitemap.

Redirected error

In this case, you have one of these issues, you have entered the full URL, and the Googlebot will fetch the domain.

In this case, make sure you just enter the URL after your domain name. So, you just need to enter the post URL, and Google will add your domain name automatically.

Webmaster Tools

The second cause is that you’ve entered the URL without the forward-slash “/” at the end. You can read how to fix this redirect problem in Google webmaster tools.

Failed to fetch

Failed fetch

This is another common problem with crawling a website, which means no way to access your page. It’s not a redirect and other issues, but a complete problem that needs to be solved.

Before doing anything, visit your URL exactly as you typed it in the fetching test, then, see what happens in your browser.

If you see the page correctly, try using the Google page speed insights that will test your page performance, and show you a real thumbnail about that page.

From there, you can see what happens really, and you can even, see the exact error message that appears from that different location.

In most cases, you will find that your server firewall is blocking Google crawlers, and you need to ask your hosting customer support, for help. Explain what happens exactly with a screenshot, at least, they will solve the problem in general.

A tested solution, that fixed the problem, is to reinstall WordPress. There is no exact explication for that, but, that fixed the issue in many cases.

It seems that the Fantastico auto-installer or the other similar tools will add some wrong configurations or permissions. In a few numbers of installations after the second install, the blog worked properly and Google accesses it naturally.

Page keeps refreshing

That means the web browser is sending wrongs requests in general, or has a spam extension or add-on. If you’re using Google Chrome, reset your browser after cleaning it. Then, scan your full computer for viruses and malware.

You can switch to another browser and see what happens. In many cases, the web browser is what causing the refresh problem that gives no results, and you will notice a redirect to the Google homepage.

So, reset your browser and remove all your newest untrusted software, and you will fix your problem. If nothing happens with all that, then, use a completely different computer, and test the URL from there.

These are the most popular errors in Google webmaster tools, if you have other messages, you can add them, and it’s better if you add your solution, and how they will be fixed.

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About Fathi Arfaoui

Fathi Arfaoui is a Physicist, Blogger and the founder of Trustiko.com. He shares Business, WordPress and Blogging tips to build a better blog and succeed online.

Disclosure: The recommendations on this page are my own based on my tests and analysis. We may earn a small commission from web hosts and other partners if you use my referral link to make a purchase. That’s what helps us to maintain the site and add fresh content, Thanks for your support.

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