“Why isn’t our website appearing on the first page of Google?“, or some version of that question, is something I’m often asked.
I assure you, if you’ve been grappling with the same question, you’re not alone.
Search engines are a lot like robots, scanning the Internet for content and websites to include in their database. Their main goal is to deliver the most relevant search results possible…which keeps their visitors (and advertisers) happy.
The first page of search results is coveted (75% of users never scroll past the first page). Proving to search engines that you belong there (above the other thousand websites in your category), takes some work.
If you can’t find your website through a Google search of relevant keywords, or if it only appears deep in the search results – there are a few easy things you can check that will probably reveal the reason why.
In this post I’ll go over the top 5 that I see most often.
1. Your Page Titles are Irrelevant, or Non-Existent
When someone tells me they aren’t getting much search traffic it only takes a minute to peak at their page titles.
It is important that each page of your website has a unique and descriptive page title. The page title tells search engines what your page is about; and it’s usually what appears in search results. So you want it to be compelling.
Here’s how to check your page titles right now.
Internet Explorer or Chrome Browser
Open any page on your website. By hovering your mouse over the page tab the full title will appear in a pop up box like the screen shot below. The title is on the first line.
What do your page titles look like?
A single word is pretty much useless (such as “Untitled”, “Home”, “About”, “Services”). Unfortunately I see this all the time…and even on websites created by “professionals”! Do yourself a favor and go check a few of your pages.
2. You Don’t Have Enough Unique, Relevant, Written Content
Without a lot of written words on your website, a search engine has very little to go on when determining what your site is about. Makes sense right?
Your team might have attempted to “keep it simple” when launching the company website, but in doing this they’ve made it awfully hard for search engines to properly file your site.
Another big way that content gets you found in more searches is by creating pages for people to find, read and share.
If you own an accounting firm, for example, not all of your potential clients will be searching for “accountants in [your city]” or “your firm’s name”. Some will search for information and advice, such as “tax write offs for businesses”, “child tax benefit new brunswick”, “benefits of hiring an accountant”.
Do you have a page on your site for each of the most common questions you’re asked?
This tip is a big one – unique, relevant content is extremely important. Even Google will tell you so. In their “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” Google says:
“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.”
3. Your Page URLs are Useless
Every page on the Internet has a unique “URL”.
The URL (aka “web page address”) is the string that starts with http://. The best URLs contain descriptive words about the content on that page.
If your URLs are structured like any of these below, they need an overhaul, ASAP!
Have a look around the http://BigFishMedia.ca website. Each page has a unique and descriptive Title and URL.
4. Other Websites Aren’t Linking to Yours
When scouring the Internet for content, search engines like Google are also keeping track of other websites that link to yours.
The rationale here is that a link to your site is like a thumbs up from a third party that tells Google your site is important. The more sites that link to yours, the more important you appear, which pushes up your Page Rank and helps to get you found closer to the top of search results.
What is Page Rank?
“PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.” – via Wikipedia
Creating excellent content (see Tip #2) is a fantastic way to get more links to your website. People will share really great content.
5. Your Site Hasn’t Been Picked Up By Search Engines
If you can’t find your site at all it’s possible that the search engine you’re using doesn’t have it in their database.
Try this trick to see if Google, Bing or Yahoo have discovered your site:
Visit the search engine’s website and type the word “site” followed by a colon and your domain name (with no spaces) as the search phrase.
For example -> site:bigfishmedia.ca
Your search will return a list of all the pages on your domain that they are aware of. If the list is empty please submit your site here:
So how did your website measure up on each of the five indicators above? If you’d like help getting things fixed please contact us.