SEO as an ongoing service is dead. Stop paying for it. That said, if you have a site, and you’re not showing up in Google, there’s three things we do first to help with getting websites ranked in search results pages.
We tend to focus our efforts on Google, given their majority share of the search market, but the steps are fairly similar for Bing and other search engines. If this all sounds like a foreign language to you, you can always hire us to do it for you.
1. get an XML Sitemap – This tells search engines about all the pages on your site
You’ll need a sitemap to make most search engines aware of all the content on your site. Sounds intimidating, but it’s really not. It’s 2016, so most content management systems already have these generated for you. An XML Sitemap is simply a list of all the pages on your site with the frequency with which they are updated. Google uses this to help its automated spidering of all your site content.
If you’re using a WordPress site, you can install a simple plugin like Yoast SEO to get a sitemap generated automatically for you. (Just make sure to refresh your permalinks so you don’t get a 404 error) If you’re on a system like Squarespace, all you need to do is add a /sitemap.xml to your URL and you’ll see your sitemap.
While an XML Sitemap is not required for SEO, and has no bearing on your overall ranking on search results pages, it does help Google get your site content spidered more often, and alludes to how your site pages are organized.
2. google search console – This is where you submit the xml sitemap from step one
Google has a handy little tool called Search Console that helps with your site in a variety of ways. For one, it’s one of the only places you can get an idea of what keywords people are typing into Google without having to pay to use Google AdWords. You’ll be able to see queries that your site displayed for, as well as some of the keywords that people are using to find your site. If you link your Search Console Account to Google Analytics, then it will push that data right into your analytics account.
If your site isn’t showing up in Google at all, not even for searches for your own brand name, then this is the place where you can fix that. After you create an account, Google will give you a handy check list that tells you what to do next.
The big thing you need to do is verify ownership of the site domain name, which you can easily do if you already have a Google Analytics account, or access to the domain name registrar account, or the ability to upload a file via FTP. Either way, verify ownership of the domain, and then SUBMIT YOUR XML SITEMAP from step one. Google now has a full index of all the pages on your site. There’s a few more steps to this, but you can reference Google’s help documents if you have specific questions on how to setup your search console account.
If you’re lucky, there’s a good chance your site will start showing up in 24 hours. If not, you may need to help indicate to Google that your site deserves top ranking for your brand. The easiest way to do this is with links back to your site–beginning with, Google My Business.
3. Google My Business – Get listed in maps and get a free link to your website
The final step in the process to get your site showing up in the search results, especially if you have a physical location, is a Google My Business account. You’ll need to verify the ownership of your location through Google My Business. (Google sends you a post card in the mail) The nice thing about this is, it gives you the ability to get a link back to your official website, which indicates to Google where your main web presence is.
There was a period of time where this was done through Google+, but according to Google, your Google+ business profile is now managed through Google My Business so they are one and the same. Setup the account, add information to your profile, and make sure you link it back to your website.
Between the sitemap, the Search Console account, and the Google My Business account, odds are your site will start showing up in the search results within a day or so. If not, I’d start by getting a few additional links back to your official website from social media profiles on most of the major social networks to help boost the PageRank score. If you’re a new business, and have been lucky enough to get some press from local news media, I’d make a point to make sure they are linking back to your official website.
Links back to your site from other trusted sources helps increase your search engine ranking overall, and indicates to Google that your site is the authority on your brand.
There’s a large check list of other tasks involved with ensuring you’re doing everything you can to get your site optimized for search, but these three main things will get you headed in the right direction, and 9/10 times your site will begin to show in the search results pages.