Website not on Google? This is a common problem with websites for small businesses across the globe.
There can be a combined number of reasons that a website is not showing up on Google search results. Two main reasons are:
The designer of the website has not taken into account the programming requirements that must be followed for a website to be ranked. Much of the time the small business does not even know there are requirements and guidelines. Read my post on website design and SEO.
Or over the years it has been online, the business owner does not support or grow the site, leaving it to float in the ether. It can do well to start with, then disappear from search pages. The website becomes outdated, and may not meet current standards.
The potential to do well on Google
Factors that determine if a business website has potential to do well on Google are:
- The way in which a site is programmed.
Clean code and correct HTML mark up helps a search engine understand a website, and therefore rank it.
- Page by page search engine optimization.
Meta-tags that let the search engines know what is contained on a page.
- How easy it is to navigate around the site.
Google will reward sites that are easy to use.
- Whether the pages are linked.
Links to relevant content throughout the site help with page rank.
- Site speed, for example page download time. Includes image download time.
Sites will be penalised for long page download time. Google is looking to give users the best experience on the websites that they rank highly, so large images or design over kill can really effect rank.
- What has been put in place to support the site and how much effort is put in.
For example a blog. Posts and pages support each other.
- Media, like images and video.
A website will be rewarded for including media, as long as it is relevant to the page and informative.
- The ability to use the site on a mobile device.
It is imperative that a website is mobile friendly for Google to rank a site well. Google now has a desktop and mobile index. If the site is not mobile friendly it will not rank well on Google mobile, loosing clicks, and in turn loosing rank to competitors sites.
- Addition of SiteMaps.
Sitemaps submitted to the Google console help Google to crawl and index a site. This can also help if the site is regularly updated.
- Crawl errors, such as dud links or duplicate content.
Google will penalise sites with dud links, so make sure all your links are working. Check them regularly as the web changes rapidly. 404 errors will also give bad signals to Google.
- Off-page signals from social media platforms, review sites, and other channels.
Helps to show Google the company is genuine.
- User interaction, for example bounce rate. Has the site been informative?
There are two arguments to this. High bounce rate can mean that users found exactly what they are looking for, but it can also mean the site was not engaging.
- Security of the site.
SSL certificates give users confidence in the website.
- Deceiving users or search engines.
Stuffing a page with keywords that are irrelevant, copying text from other websites or pretending your company is something it is not all come under this category. Google loves clarity.
Yes, it is hard to get your website listed well on Google, and you should work hard at it.
Just think, if it were easy the most unhelpful, SPAM filled websites would be popping up on our search results. Not nice.
Deceptive behaviour will also be penalised by Google.
This guide should answer your question, “Why is my website not on Google?“.
Google guidelines for SEO
There are quality guidelines for websites, set out by Google that will determine whether a site is deemed fit to rank on the search result pages.
That is, when someone searches a set of keywords a site must meet certain criteria to have a chance to rank.
First Google must find your site, or you must let Google know it is there.
Following that, if the site is understood and meets requirements Google will index your site, meaning it is added to the huge database.
Then different pages on your site will be ranked for different key terms depending on usability and localisation. Here is how to get started.
1. Help Google to understand the site
Each page or post should be useful, information-rich and honest. Every page on a website counts. Google wants the user to find the information they are looking for. If a site provides quality, it will be rewarded.
Start off on the right foot by:
Analysing keywords to find out what people are searching for. These words should be included through the website. Pages can target different key terms.
On each post and page ensure that <title> elements and alt attributes (on images) are descriptive, specific, and accurate. Not full of repetitive keywords, this is seen as stuffing.
The site should be clear and easy to navigate. The pecking order of pages is crucial for Google to understand what is important on the site.
Name and label images, videos and other media with as much explanation as possible.
Make sure all pages and site assests can be crawled. Use the blocked resources report in Search Console and the Fetch as Google and robots.txt Tester tools.
Allow search bots to crawl your site without session IDs or URL parameters.
Avoid hiding important content behind drop downs or accordions.
Advertising links should not be followed by a crawler, and must be highlighted.
2. Help visitors to use your site
When visitors cannot use a site, they will be fast to move on to a competitor. Google ranks a site higher if usability is good.
A website should be designed for all devices, like mobile phones and tablets as well as computers.
Ensure that your site appears correctly in different browsers.
Text is preferred over images for content or links. Always use the ALT attribute if you are using images. Furthermore make sure that links use descriptive anchor text, for example “Freelance website designer“, rather than “click here“.
Ensure there are no dud links. Dud links show that the site is not well maintained.
Use valid HTML.
Make sure your site loads quickly. Images and media can slow a site down. Not good for user experience, and Google will penalise.
HTTPS is another positive signal to Google. This is where information passed between browser and user is encrypted.
Pages should be readable for users with visual impairments.
3. Tell Google about your site
Using Google Search Console, add a SiteMap. Google uses a Sitemap to inspect the structure of the site.
Providing content and expertise
Good content is extremely necessary for better rank. No content and little maintenance can explain why is a website is not listed well on Google.
Quality content writing is actually not hard, as long as you know your business and clients. I find most entrepreneurs are passionate about their business. Content ideas can be found through analysing the site and its users.
Research must be done into medium volume key terms that have low competition. Then an informative post written around those key terms.
Producing content is not a quick fix. It takes time and effort to produce really good content and can take a year or more to start seeing results.
Poor, thin content will never rank.
Make sure on page search engine optimization (on-page SEO) is carried out on each post and page.
What is on page SEO?
On-page SEO is more well known in the world of business owners. This is the requirement that a page is easy to read by any search engine bot that comes across it. Each page or post should target different key terms, but terms that are related to the industry. There can be thousands.
Layout of the page – html tags in order.
Good spelling, good grammar.
Links to other sites.
What is off page SEO?
Google looks beyond the website to confirm that the business and the owner is valued.
Backlinks from other websites, social shares and online reviews on sites like Google+, TripAdvisor and Yell all count as SEO, labelled off-page SEO.
These signals show Google that users love your company. More credit can be given to off-page SEO than entrepreneurs realise.
Off page SEO can include:
- Backlinks – these are links from other websites. Website must be relevant, usually within your industry. Websites that have a higher domain authority provide more link juice.
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.
- Online reviews – Google+ reviews are incredibly important, alongside reviews on large well established sites like Yell and TripAdvisor.
See my post What does SEO mean?
Why is my website not on Google?
What we have learnt is that there could be a number of answers, or combined answers, to reveal why a website not on Google. It is often not just one element holding the site back, but many.
The good news is, with a bit of work, most websites can be improved for appearance on Google search results.
Get a professional audit from website designer Kelly Drewett. I would be happy to help.