You’ve built (or had built) a shiny new website and you’re excited about getting it out there in front of people who may want to buy your products, avail your services or simply read what you’ve got to say. But after a few weeks or months of it being live, you’ve still had nobody visit it other than the people you’ve promoted it to directly.
Concerned that your website could be missing out on vital organic traffic from Google and other search engines, you decide to look for it yourself using some of the search terms you think it may appear under.
And that’s when it hits you, you can’t find your website for love nor money and apparently, it doesn’t appear in Google anywhere.
There are many reasons why this could happen and you shouldn’t despair because I’m about to give you a few pointers, which will help get your website featuring in Google search results going forward.
Google Webmaster Tools
Search engine spiders crawl the Internet and look for new websites all the time. However, they can sometimes take their time discovering them, so it’s always best to tell Google directly that your new site exists.
The best way to do this is via Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) – a suite of tools designed for webmasters, like you and I. As well as allowing you to inform Google of your website’s existence, it also boasts a plethora of features to help boost your site’s search engine optimisation (SEO).
Here’s what you need to do as a minimum:
1. Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools and login using your Google account. If you don’t already have one then you’ll need to register one.
2. Once logged in you’ll need to add your website. Click ‘Add Site’ and enter the full URL as shown below. Be sure to do this twice: with and without the ‘www’ prefix
3. Now you’ll need to verify your site and prove that you actually own it. You can do this in one of several ways and GWT will give you a recommended method and several alternative methods. They all achieve the same purpose, so choose whichever you feel most comfortable with.
4. Open your newly added and verified site from the main dashboard and down the left hand side look for ‘Crawl’. Under this submenu you’ll see ‘Sitemaps’ and this is where you can submit your own website’s sitemap to Google, so that its spiders know exactly how your site is laid out. My own sitemap was created using a WordPress plugin, but there are many other online resources to help you make one.
Search Engine Optimisation
When the search engine spiders crawl your site they are looking for meta content, keywords and other relevant information, so they can report back to the main Google database what they’ve found. If your site is lacking in any of these then its database entry may not reflect its content or purpose.
While littering your site with keywords is definitely not best practice, it absolutely has to have some. Otherwise, how can you expect Google to rank it in searches? As a rough guideline, try and have your keywords in the title of your page, subheadings and naturally and evenly distributed throughout.
Whatever you do don’t try and shoehorn keywords in where they don’t look right. It’ll not just annoy your readers, but Google won’t appreciate it either. We keep hearing that ‘content is king’ and that’s never been more true than today.
Google doesn’t always discover the latest and greatest content and sometimes has to rely on signals from social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. If a particular article or piece of content is getting a lot of attention in terms of shares, likes comments, etc. Google may choose to rank it more favourably.
In a similar vein, content that attracts a high bounce rate i.e. a visitor clicks through to it and then leaves almost immediately may be frowned upon by Google. This is because the visitor obviously didn’t find what they were expecting when they reached the content and so Google may decide that it shouldn’t be ranked so highly for that particular keyword or phrase.
Providing your readers with high-quality content and information, which makes them want to come back again and again, is fundamental for improving your site’s chances of appearing in the Google results pages.
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net