Google is a significant tool at the disposal of all businesses and marketers when it comes to finding users who are searching for your product or service.
Here we look at how you get your website to show on Google, why it may not show on Google and different search engine marketing techniques.
How does Google work?
Google is effectively a very large online directory. It compiles and stores copies of web pages. When you type a search query into Google, it looks through all of these pages and returns the pages (results) which it sees as most relevant to answer your query.
The way in which Google determines which pages to return as most relevant is down to its algorithm. That is, the factors that it uses in its decision-making process. No one knows exactly how the Google algorithm works but if you want to know more then this overview of how search algorithms work would be useful to read.
Google specifically reference factors such as the below as being important in determining which web pages it returns:
- The meaning of the user’s query – what category of information being looked for
- Relevance of webpages – does the webpage contain information relevant to the query?
- Usability of webpages – how easy is the webpage to use?
- Expertise of sources – is the website an authority or expert in the subject being discussed?
- Location and settings – for example, which country you are in or your location can help Google deliver relevant content
With millions of pages across the web, returning the relevant pages is not enough. Google then ranks those pages so that the results displayed to the user are ranked according to which pages Google feels will be mostrelevant. This involves algorithms which look at hundreds of different factors.
Google include both organic search results (those which appear in the main area of the results page) and paid search results (those which appear at the top and bottom of the page highlighted as ‘Ad’) against each user search query. The above relates mostly to the organic search results but we’ll look in more detail at the differences between paid and organic results later in this blog.
Why is my website not on Google?
There can be a number of different reasons why your website may not show on Google:
1. Google may not know your site exists
If your site is new
It can take a little while for Google to index your website if it is new. Google suggests it can take at least a week from the point at which you submit an index request. To see if Google knows that your website exists, you can run a site search. Type Search: yourwebsite into the Google search bar. If at least one result is returned, Google knows about your website. If no pages are returned, then Google hasn’t yet indexed your website.
2. You may be hiding your website from Google
You may be preventing Google from indexing your website
If your pages contain the ‘noindex’ meta tag, it tells Google not to index it and these pages will not appear on Google. There is a check box on WordPress for example which adds this tag to every page if selected – it is often used to prevent Google from indexing your site whilst its being developed. So, don’t forget to remove it if you do make use of it.
You may be preventing Google from crawling your pages
Pages listed in your robots.txt file can’t be crawled by Google. It is your instruction to Google regarding which pages you do and don’t want to appear in search. Certain code contained within the file can prevent Google from crawling all of your pages.
If your website is appearing on Google, but certain pages aren’t then it may be that your page isn’t appearing for the search queries you are expecting it to. This could be to do with the content on the page, it’s relevance, whether you have obtained any links to the page etc.
How do I get my website on Google?
Google specifically make reference to the fact that you do not need to submit your website to them in order to appear
‘In fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren’t manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when our bots crawl the web.’
However, you do need to make sure that your website is set up in the correct way and in a way that makes it possible for Google to crawl and index your site (see above for pointers on why your site may not be appearing)
Google recommend use of a tool called Google Search Console which is designed to help you manage your site’s presence on Google Search. Whilst not a must, it can provide useful tools and reports when it comes to improving how well your website ranks on Google.
Getting your website on Google is just the starting point though. You then need to think about how you increase your visibility in search listings in order to drive increased traffic. In order to do this, you will most likely need to invest in search engine marketing (SEM). Below we look briefly at the two main forms of SEM – search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It involves the process of attracting traffic through the organic search results displayed on Google by making updates to your website to make it as relevant as possible to user search queries.
A key aspect of SEO is understanding the search queries that your users are likely to be using and building content on your website which provides simple, helpful solutions to these queries. You ultimately need to convince Google that your content is the best for the user.
You can do this in a number of ways:
1. On page search engine optimisation – optimising the pages on your website to appeal to Google’s algorithms. This can include things like page speed, how friendly your website is to mobile users (Google operates on a mobile first policy) or making your site secure. With regards to the content itself, consider areas such as page titles, rich content, internal links, regular content updates and outbound links. These can all be good ways to send positive signals to Google.
2. Off page search engine optimisation – this involves signals sent to Google via third parties. This can include things like inbound links – if people are linking to your content it suggests it is useful/popular – or social signals such as people sharing your content, people mentioning your brand, or product/service reviews.
This is a very brief overview of SEO, it is a large area and requires sustained effort and focus to get pages ranked highly for the search queries you are targeting. But investing in SEO is the only way to ensure that your website and pages appear on Google high up within the organic search results. When you do achieve this, the benefits are qualified leads, increased traffic and not having to pay for ads.
Take a look at this SEO explained video from Google created as part of their search for beginners series for more information on SEO.
What is PPC?
PPC stands for Pay Per Click. It is a form of search engine marketing. It refers to the sponsored or paid for ads which appear in the Google search results.
Each time a user searches, an ad spot is up for grabs and an auction is run to determine which advertiser appears in this ad spot. Advertisers will set the keywords or search queries that they want their ads to appear for, along with the bids they are willing to pay for the advert space.
Many factors determine who wins the auction, including bid amount and the quality of the advert, also known as Quality Score.
If your advert wins the auction and is displayed, then you pay when the advert is clicked on.
You’ll need to set up a Google Ads account in order to run PPC advertising. You can then set up your campaigns, define your keywords and set up your adverts which will display for these keywords.
PPC can be a good way to obtain prominence within the Google search results for the keywords you are targeting. It can also deliver immediate results. But it can also be expensive as you pay each time an advert is clicked. Some highly competitive keywords can have very high cost per clicks for example. So, you’ll need to ensure that any PPC advertising that you do is well managed and relevant to achieve a positive ROI.
As a business owner looking to drive traffic and leads to your website, getting your website visible on Google should be one of your top priorities. With over 90% share of the search market worldwide, your users are more than likely to be using Google to find what they are looking for. If you aren’t there you risk losing out. Making sure your website is set up to allow Google to crawl and index your pages is vital. And following this up with investment in search engine marketing to make it visible to users.
ACES Marketing work across the full spectrum of website marketing – from design and build to website optimisation and content creation. So if you have any questions about growing your business or improving your website then get in touch with us today.