So you have a freshly launched site and it’s nowhere to be seen on Google. How can that be? What’s going on?
Google (and Google alone) decides which websites appear on its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) for any given search, and their positions. The simple fact is that your website will not appear on Google (or any other search engine) until it has been indexed by the Google robots that crawl the internet looking for new sites to index. But it can take several weeks or even several months for this to happen.
On launch, your website will be ‘optimised on-site’ to help the Google robots find and index your site. Optimisation on site includes things like adding metatags and page descriptions to the page code and adding key words and phrases in text and headings. It also includes submitting a ‘site map’ to Google to alert them that a new site has been launched and is waiting to be indexed. Site maps also help the Google robots find their way around when they do visit. The amount of relevant text containing targeting keywords and phrases is particularly important which is why blogs are a good way of adding new ‘relevant’ content to your site regularly. If your website lacks content containing keywords and phrases to index, getting a good ranking is always going to be difficult.
Once the Google robot has visited, Google takes some external factors into consideration too – often things that are beyond your control. Things like the number and age of competing sites, the size of competing sites and the number of incoming links to your site from other well regarded ‘authority’ sites are all relevant. Finally, Google also considers recommendations and links to your site on social media (which is why social media is probably one of the most effective ways of promoting your business).
Once your website’s content has been indexed by the Google robots, and Google has taken all the external influencing factors into account, for any relevant search (usually your name, the name of your site, or the name of your product or service), your website will be given a SERPS position that Google thinks appropriate. If your name, product or service is fairly unique, and there’s little competition, you can usually expect to appear on page one, possibly at the top. Don’t be surprised if it’s not immediately the top though. It takes time for Google to decide that a site is trustworthy and give it a good ranking. If your targeted keywords and phrases are very common and there are lots of competing sites which have been around for a long time, it is much harder to get a good position and will require additional marketing work by you to promote your site. Often competitor sites will have put a lot of money and hard work into marketing their sites, often via social media, and their reward is a good ranking and more business. New sites won’t get a look in until they too have proved to Google that they too are reliable, informative and well respected sites.