A common question I get asked the day of launching a new client web site on a new domain is “why isn’t my web site showing in Google”. The short answer is usually “because Google hasn’t indexed it”, but that is a particularly unhelpful answer.
As an owner of a web design business I really want to see my clients get the most out of their web sites so I’ve created this short post to give my clients a brief explanation of search engine optimization and also included a quick reference which include 10 simple tasks they can do to help their new web site get indexed with Google and (fingers crossed) show up in the search results.
How does Google find web sites?
Google has some fancy software that crawls the web called spiders. These spiders navigate through web sites following links from one page to the next collecting information on each page.
So at the simplest level, Google finds your web site from other web sites that reference (or link) to your site.
We can also just tell Google about your web site, see point 2 below – Google Webmasters.
How does Google rank web sites?
No one outside of Google can say with any authority how this works exactly as it’s not information that they publish and it is always being updated.
That being said, what we do know is that Google uses the quality and the number of backlinks a web site has in order to gauge its importance. This is commonly thought of as the single most important factor (or signal) for your web site ranking well.
Over the years search engine marketers have found ways to manipulate the results based upon this, consequently unnatural backlinks, keyword stuffing and other black hat techniques have been frowned upon by Google and in some instances web sites have been penalized as a result.
Keep in mind that Google’s intention is to provide users with the most relevant search results for the users query. So at the core of your online marketing strategy should be to provide users with the best and most relevant content.
Google’s philosophy is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”.
So what should I do?
Besides focusing on providing great content on your web sites for your users I’ve included a list of both On-Site and Off-Site search engine optimization best practices that you can implement straight away.
- Identify keywords – Rather than industry jargon think of what words or phrases your users would use to search for
- Optimize your page Titles, URL Slugs, Headings, Meta Keywords and Descriptions with your most relevant keywords. Also, don’t forget to use ‘Alt’ tags on your images, this is also helpful for accessibility
- Update your site regularly creating useful content for your users
- Include your address in the footer and contact page
- Create a Google Business Page
- Create a Google Webmasters account and upload a XML Site Map
- Install Google Analytics
- Register with Yahoo Local
- Register with Bing Local
- List your business on Yellow Pages
- List your business on True Local
- Add links to your web site through your social media profiles – (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Linked In
In addition to these points you should regularly source high quality and relevant sites and request (politely) for a back link. For example, if you have a restaurant you could add your business listing to Urban Spoon or Yelp. If you run a tourism agency you could add your business details to Trip Advisor. Be aware that back links from low quality sites can have a negative effect on your SEO.