People who are just starting out with their own website often ask this question at some point "Why isn't my website visible on Google?". I have devoted a lot of my time to it, it seems to me that everything is set to the last button and there is no sign of the website. Why?
In this article we will try to answer this question.
When will the website appear in Google results?
It is not impossible that if you have a problem that we are touching on, it does not really exist 🙂 It is just that Google has not yet published the data it has collected about your website. It's not like, as if by magic touch of a wand, Google instantly has everything that falls on the Internet at its disposal. It doesn't.
A Google search engine is nothing more than software. Software that scours the web for changes and new resources that do not yet exist in its databases. Operating on complex algorithms, it ultimately decides whether and on which positions for a given phrase your website will appear in search results.
Sometimes this process lasts a few hours, sometimes a few days, or even longer, but eventually the page gets into the public index. Of course, I'm not talking about the position in the results, because in this case, it's a never-ending process of constant change. Sometimes you will be on high positions, sometimes on low. Many factors have an influence on it.
If you have everything from the technical side prepared as it should be, then surely sooner or later your website will appear in the search results. But...
Google needs to know about the existence of your website
Google is not clairvoyant. Although it knows a lot about what is happening on the web, it does not know everything. In order to find information about your website, it has to learn about its existence. This may be links to your website from other sites, it may be registering your website in Google services such as Google Analytics, or finally, what should really be the first step you take after making your website public, registering it in the Google Search Consolewhich I will mention again.
What if, despite everything, the page is still not there
You've got links from external places, from social media, you've got Google Analytics stats installed, someone who's helping you has even said the site has submitted to Google for indexing. You wait, you wait... a week, two weeks, a month. And nothing.
Check your WordPress master settings
If you are using WordPress, check if by any chance you have activated the option informing a search engine that your website is not yet ready for indexation. If you are working with your website on a server and it is available to the public, it is recommended to activate this option at the stage of its construction, when it is still very much under construction and not really suitable for publication. But in a situation when the website is ready and you want to start gaining traffic to it, you have to turn it off!
Go to section Settings > Reading
If the "Visibility for search engines"If it is ticked and the website is ready for its first clients, as I said before, you must un-tick it! If it is ticked then you may have to wait for an eternity for your website to appear in Google without any effect.
Take a look at the settings of the SEO plug-in
With the help of SEO optimization plugins, you can decide whether a page, post or other type of content on your website should be visible in search results or not. This is a very useful option because it is not usually the case that you want to index everything at once. Why would Google index a shopping cart page, or a thank you page for subscribing, or a terms and conditions page, etc... These are not important pages for your business, they just clutter up the index.
Where to check this? When it comes to WordPress SEO plugins there are quite a few. I'll show you where to look for these options in two of my favorites. If in your case you use another one you will surely find these options in its settings too.
At the moment it's my main optimisation plugin. Until recently it was the Yoast SEO extension, but Rank Math offers me much more and works really well. If this extension interests you take a look at the article "Rank Math - an alternative to Yoast SEO“.
When you edit any page or entry (this can also be the home page), check that it is marked as ready for indexing. If this particular sub-page of your site is to be available in search results, the settings should be as in the following screenshot.
If you have "No Index" checked here for search engine robots, then you already know why this particular subpage does not want to appear in search results. If this is the case, simply change it, and then wait patiently for traffic from Google.
This works in an analogous way with the Yoast SEO plugin. The only difference is the interface itself. Here, too, by editing a given subpage or entry, you can go to the individual configuration of each individual subpage. It looks like this in the case of indexing:
You have a drop-down list from which you select options related to indexing. Default for Page, Yes or Not.
The default settings are usually sufficient if you allow indexing in the default plugin configuration.
Check what the robots.txt file contains
This is a plain text file which can be used to manage bot access, i.e. to allow or disallow crawling of the site and selected resources. An example of syntax that does not allow access to the entire site is:
Its opposite, giving permission to all bots to index the whole thing, is:
Check what the content of this file looks like in your case and make appropriate changes if necessary. You can find more about the rules in robots.txt file on Google's help page: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6062596?hl=pl
Google Search Console
I have already mentioned that you should start with this tool. In fact, it's a waste of time to search when you can get very specific information about indexing problems and from the search engine itself.
What should I do then? At the same time as launching the site publicly, register with Google Search Console and add your site. Once you have done this and correctly verified yourself as the owner, add the Site Map in the next step.
Then wait for the results. They will not appear immediately. Come back the next day, for example, and see what the GSC has to communicate to you. This may include information such as this:
We have 15 errors related to indexing. It is worth checking whether they relate to page elements that are of value to us or not. Perhaps these are sections that we have deliberately excluded by adding the NOINDEX tag to them, but they are still in the sitemap.
Everything is here to be checked and verified, which is why I refer you to this tool in the first instance when you encounter a Google visibility problem.
Or are you in the Google search results after all?
It may also turn out that everything is fine, but... you want to see your website on the first or second page of results for one or another phrase related to your business. If this is the problem, it is not a matter of indexing, i.e. the absence of your site in Google's index, but of positioning.
SEO optimisation and positioning
You are probably not the only one offering such services or products. It is not impossible that the industry you operate in is extremely competitive.
If this is indeed the case and there are, say, 50 companies in your locality doing the same thing as you, it will not be easy. On the first page of Google results there is only 10 places and there are sites with an established history, interesting content that is better or worse optimised, valuable external links, etc... Everything that you don't have yet, because you are just starting out.
So don't expect that if you've launched a nice website, maybe even commissioned it from someone and paid 5k or more, that you should be in the top ten. This has to be earned. It does not happen straight away.
Google operates on complex algorithms designed to provide searchers with the most valuable and trusted content possible. I'm not saying you don't have such, but Google doesn't know you yet. For the search engine you are just one of thousands of pages that appear every day, many of which disappear from the map of the Internet after a month or two. Google will not trust you to such an extent that you will immediately land in the TOP10 - unless for very niche phrases where you have no competition, but this is rare.
This is just the beginning
You've already created your website, it's there and it looks exactly the way you want it to. Do you have customers coming to you through doors and windows? I suspect not. You are on the threshold of a journey to the top that will require either intensive learning related to SEO techniques or the need to outsource the task to specialists. What are the costs involved? Very different, which largely depends on the industry, the phrases and your expectations. You can find an example of a positioning price list on "Positioning Packages“.
Write as much as possible
The more quality content, content that engages your site's readers and gives them tangible value, the better. Whenever you can, write or outsource this task to copywriters and publish, publish, publish. Are you going to say that writing a business blog is not for you? A lot of people say that and then they don't get any benefit from running the site. Answer yourself if you want to belong to that group. I hope you don't 🙂 .
Your website operates in an era of content marketing. Content is now one of the most important ranking factors and the most important factor related to gaining organic traffic from a search engine, i.e. traffic that you don't pay for. There is much to fight for.
If for some reason your website is not visible in the search results register on Google Search Console. Add your website and its sitemap there. Wait for the results and see what's going on.
Perhaps you simply forgot to uncheck the option in WordPress asking not to be indexed in search engines. I know of at least a few such cases, where one of the record holders only realised he had this option ticked after a few nice months 🙂
Perhaps it's a matter of individual settings for the homepage and subpages in the configuration related to the SEO plugin. Check.
It is possible that you have added directives in the robots.txt file or in the .htaccess file. It is worth taking a look there as well.
What if everything is OK? Well, then you are probably in Google's index, or you just need to wait patiently. If you're already in the search engine, which you'll check in Google Search Console, perhaps your business is measuring up against other similar ones and hence your information is on the 5th - 10th page of results, or maybe even further down. Hence the difficulty in finding them. In this situation, take an interest in SEO.
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