Getting Seen on Google and the Other Search Engines is Essential. But Having a Website Isn’t Enough. Content & Technical Issues Often Prevent Your Site From Appearing in the Search Results. Here’s What You Should Look For.
With billions of new pages being published every day Google and the Other Search Engines automate the indexing of online content. To help them do this efficiently, and to ensure we appear on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) we need to do more than just write good content.
There are a few very simple technical things we need to do as well. And there is a simple reason for this.
Think of your webpage being like a book in a library. If every book in the library had the same cover it would be almost impossible to find your book. The librarian couldn’t help in finding your book because their book index would have input the information they found on the book cover .. and because the same book cover was on every book, the sam einforamtion would be repeated thousands or even billions of times in their index.
Of course they could sit down and read every book and then index them but it would take forever.
So what can we do to help Google index our pages?
Getting Seen on Google: Use a Site Map
The most important thing is to ensure they find the page. Every day huge numbers of pages are published that Google never sees .. so it never indexes the page and it never get into search results. The simple way to get noticed by Google is to use a site map and ensure it is updated on a regular basis. If you don’t know how to do this check with your webmanager (or give us a ring and we’ll help).
The other way of ensuring Google knows about your updates is to post a link to them on social media. Search engines like Google spend a lot of time looking at the new content on social media and often follow links and index new content. This isn’t a failsafe method but we have had content indexed in seconds by doing this .. but it could take hours or much longer.
Submitting a Sitemap to the Search Engines
There are several ways to produce and send your sitemap to Google and the other search engines. You could do it manually but I prefer to automate it via the Yoast plugin (Yoast are as near essential to SEO as any plugin I know but beware this is for WordPress sites. Other CRM systems are not as blessed).
Start by downloading and activating Yoast. Once this is done go to the “First Time SEO Configuration Page and tick either the My Site Is Live or Under Construction boxes.
Now go to Yoast Webmaster Verification Tools section, follow the instructions and verify to the search engines that you own the website.
Now submit your sitemap to the various search engines.
Here is an example of how this is done. If you wish to submit your sitemap to Google you’ll need to have a signed up to Google Search Console. To keep this post short I’ll not give full details here as you can Google How to Do This, or contact me for more details.
You will also need to go to the Yoast Features section and ensure the XML sitemaps button is turned on. See the red circle in the image
Once you have Google Search Console set up sign into it, select (or add) your website, go to index and click on sitemaps. Now go to Add a new sitemap, add the url and click submit.
Yoast will now add new pages and posts to your sitemap as you publish them and will submit them to Google. The other search engines work in a similar way so it’s a matter of undertaking a similar process with each.
If you want a sitemap submitted quickly you can prompt Yoast manually or you can manually upload the Google Search Console.
Getting Seen on Google: Title Pages – H1 tags
A bit like every book doing much better if it has a unique title we need to ensure our pages all have unique page titles. It might be that a competitor is using the same title as us, especially if the page title is a product name, but it needs to be unique within our website. Otherwise Google wil struggle to differentiate between two pages with the same page title.
Technically these are H1 tags and they are usually set up automatically when you add a new post or page to a website (I told you most of this was easy). The bit they can’t do automatically is to write the title. It’s up to you to ensure it is unique.
Getting Seen on Google: Page Descriptors, Snippet Review – H2 tags
The next thing that you need to do is to add a page descriptor and again it needs to be unique. Most websites allow you to add a page descriptor when you write the content. The content on this page is simple to add the page descriptor to as when I write the page there is a box at the bottom of the page where I can add the descriptor.
The page descriptor is often called the Meta Descriptor, Meta Description or Snippet. They are essentially all the same thing.
The Meta Descriptor is the bit of copy you normally see under the Page Title and url when you search.
In the example below it starts with the date the copy was written but that isn’t always the case.
If you leave the Page Descriptor blank Google will insert what it thinks is most appropriate. Which means you have no control over what appears.
Very occasionally Google will override your Page Descriptor with what it thinks is more appropriate, but that is quite unusual provided you’ve written something sensible.
Never Repeatedly Use The Same Page Descriptor
Worse than no Meta Descriptor, or Page Descriptor if you prefer that term, is to repeat the same description over and over again on page after page.
I recently checked a website and found nearly a thousand pages with the same Meta Descriptor. It took a while to rewrite each one as a unique tag but the results, once it was done, made it well worth it.
Getting Seen on Google: Have Really Fast Loading Times
The speed that your page loads is really important, especially on mobile phones. Think about the number of times you’ve come across a site or page that loads really slowly. Did you wait for it to load or did you give up waiting and look for a better site? And if you did wait how did it make you feel? I’ve yet to hear anyone say the like a slow loading site! Or that they buy more on slow loading sites! It doesn’t happen.
For every extra second that someone has to wait for your page to load you lose around 10-20% of your visitors. And with more people using mobile devices Google is now testing mobile loading times as a priority.
It’s possible to speed loading times up by compressing big files such as images with apps like Smush. And you can using a caching plugin to speed up loading times. In fact there are quite a few things you can do to speed your loading times. You should aim for loading times of below 2-3 seconds on both PCs and mobiles.
In the image there’s a site report for a site we recently tested and both mobile and desktop loading speeds were 30 seconds. Ask yourself when you last waited 30 seconds for a page to load. I bet you’ve never waited that long. Now think about how many people wait for the pages we tested to load. Traffic was close to zero where previously it had been around a 1000 visitors a day.
If you don’t get much traffic Google is going to let your site drop down the index. Those with a lot of traffic have a natural advantage as loads of people are voting for them with their mouse!
Getting Seen on Google: SSL, Is Your Website Secure?
If you take payments on your site Google wants to be sure that your customers’ payments are secure. So sites without SSL certificates are marked as Not Secure. On its own this doesn’t push you down the search index bt you will get less traffic and that has the same effect.
So ensure you have a SSL certificate, even if you don’t handle payments on the site
Site Downtime Should Be Nil
It’s amazing how many websites crash and the owners never know. Often it’s to do with hosting and other technical issues and the host will eventually put things right. But there are ways to ensure that your site never goes down.
Your visitors aren’t going to be impressed if , when they visit, your site is not working. They might decide to try again later but often they forget and your busienss will suffer.
100% uptime is possible, even if a hosting server crashes. And it needn’t cost much.
Downtime Warnings in Real Time
We currently monitor hundreds of sites and get a warning if one goes down within seconds of it happening. That means we can warn website owners like yourself if there is a problem. And better still we can ensure that website downtime is virtually eliminated. Contact us now to discover how to protect yourself.
Write In Depth Content … That Means Enough Words
If you only write a few sentences its highly unlikely that you will rank high on the search result pages simply because you haven’t written enough content to cover all the topic in any depth.
It’s not impossible to rank for very short content but it is highly unusual. I normally expect to write at least 300-400 words to get noticed and well ranked. Bear in mind that for any search there will be millions of potential results that Google could put on Page One. So to beat millions of other pages is extremely hard. But it isn’t impossible as my page on Three Types of Advertising proves. That page has been at the top of the search results for ten years. But that is no reason to be complacent. A better page could knock me off the top spot any day.
Getting Your Website Analysed .. At Nil Cost.
If the above worries you or if you don’t know how well your site is performing we can carry out an in depth review of your website and advise you how to put it right.
The basic review is free. Just contact me and I’ll arrange it as a priority.
You can email me on StefanDrew@gmail.com or phone me on 07904 897929
And if you want to create a new website or rebuild an existing one check our website design pages