Creating a website is one of the first steps you’ll take to make your business a reality. Thanks to the plethora of free website builders and free templates available, it’s possible even for amateur entrepreneurs to create a website that advertises your business, attracts new customers, and informs your existing customers of your latest products and services. Unfortunately, if no one can find your website, it’s not going to be effective.
You can rely on traditional advertising methods to make customers know about your website, but if you want to reach a wider audience and capitalize on the universal accessibility of the internet, you’ll need to make sure your site is visible in search engines.
But how can you tell if your website is discoverable by search engines, and what steps can you take to improve your visibility?
How Search Engines Work
For most of this article, we’ll refer to Google as the primary example of how search engines work; while there are variances between search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, most of them have the same basic approach.
To provide the best possible results to web searchers, Google relies on an index. You can think of this index like a highly organized library, where Google keeps tabs on all the existing pages on the web. That way, when a user enters a specific query, Google can quickly find what they’re looking for. Google relies on bots called “crawlers” to constantly scour the web for content, then organizing that content in a way that aligns with the functionality of its search engine algorithm.
Making your site visible in search engines therefore requires that one, your site is present in Google’s index, and two, you have some way to increase your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs). The latter relies on a collection of strategies known as search engine optimization (SEO), and you can learn more about those strategies from the informative and instructional content at SEO.co.
Is Your Site Indexed?
The big question this article seeks to answer is whether or not your site is indexed in Google. So how can you make sure you’re present in the index, and what can you do if it isn’t there?
The good news is this is a simple process, and you don’t really have to do anything. Google takes it upon itself to crawl the web on a regular basis, so sooner or later, if your site is live, it will eventually find and index your content. This process can take a few weeks, so don’t be surprised if you take a site live and it isn’t immediately visible in search engines. If you want to accelerate the process, you can also submit a manually created sitemap of your website to Google.
How can you tell for sure that your site is indexed? Obviously, if it shows up in a Google search, that means it’s been indexed; you can search for specific phrases you know to be on your web pages and see if your site comes up. More reliably, you can use Google Search Console to see which of your pages, if any, have been indexed, and if there are any current crawl errors on your site. If there’s a crawl error, Google will usually tell you the nature of the error and how to correct it.
If your site or a specific page on your site hasn’t been indexed, it’s probably not a problem with Google—it’s probably a problem with your site. You may have submitted a sitemap with an error that interferes with how Google has indexed your content. You could have earned a Google penalty that got you de-indexed (though these are rare, and you’ll always receive a notification if this happens to your site). And most commonly, you may have a robots.txt file that is intentionally blocking Google web crawlers from indexing a page, or your entire site. Fortunately, most of these are easy fixes.
Improving Your Site Visibility
Once your site has been indexed, there’s no guarantee it’s going to appear for relevant searches. Google takes into consideration the relevance of webpages (how closely they relate to a user query) as well their authority (or inherent trustworthiness). If you want to increase your rankings and make your site visible to more people, you’ll need to engage in SEO strategies that boost your domain authority and increase your relevance to your target audience. Getting your site visible in Google and other search engines is easy, since search engines use bots to take care of the process for you. However, it’s still important to check whether your site has been successful indexed, and it’s even more important to intentionally optimize your site to rank higher, even if it is indexed.