On this page, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons for websites not appearing in Google search results, and offer ways that you can both find the problem and resolve it. Read on to learn how to appear on Google’s search engine and drive more traffic to your website!
Has Your site been submitted to Google’s index?
If your website is brand new, you may be anxiously checking Google every few hours, wondering to yourself “is something wrong?” Chances are pretty good that nothing is wrong with your website. Although Google has certainly sped up the speed with which it crawls (or reviews) websites for changes and new information, brand new websites still take a little while to show up in search results.
If your new site doesn’t show up in Google after a few days, you may want to try manually submitting it to Google’s index. This process allows you to tell Google that you have a page that needs reviewed and included in search results. This is especially important for new websites, because you may not have much (if any) traffic without showing up in search!
To submit a new website to Google’s index, visit this page. Enter your URL in the box, fill out the CAPTCHA, and click “Submit Request.” Google will review the new submission and add it to its index, as long as the content is appropriate.
There is no definite answer to the question “how long does it take Google to index a new website?” It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. However, according to this Webmaster Tools Help thread, you can speed up the indexing process by:
- Having content on your site (as opposed to mostly blank pages)
- Pointing a few links to your site
- Creating a valid sitemap
- Verifying your site in Google Webmaster Tools
In short, if you’re reading this page asking “how do I make my website appear on Google search faster?” the key is to properly populate it before submitting an index request.
Is your site suffering from a manual penalty?
If your website traffic has taken a nosedive, and your site has stopped showing up in Google search results, this may be due to a manual action, or penalty, being applied to your site.
Manual penalties are Google’s way of keeping websites that are presumed to be harmful or in violation of its terms of service out of its search results. They may do this by removing the site in search entirely, or by placing a warning beneath its listing. You can learn more about why Google takes manual action against websites on this Webmaster Tools Help page.
To find out if your site is suffering from a manual penalty, you will need access to Google Webmaster Tools. Visit the dashboard, click “Search Traffic,” then “Manual Actions.” If there are any actions listed on this page, they are responsible for your site not showing up on Google.
To learn how to resolve your manual penalty and get your website ranking again, we recommend consulting our Expert’s Guide to Google Penalty Removal. This guide will help you take the steps necessary to both remove and recover from any manual action.
Is your site ranking poorly due to an algorithmic penalty?
Sometimes, you may think that your site isn’t showing up in Google at all, but it is… just on a very, very deep page in the search results. This may be due to an algorithmic, or automatic, penalty.
Unlike manual penalties, which Google gives out in response to user reports or by finding issues on websites during a human screening process, algorithmic penalties are applied automatically. Google uses a complex algorithm to determine how websites are ranked for each and every search query, and these algorithms are regularly updated to ensure the results are of the highest quality possible. This is why you may occasionally see minor or even dramatic changes in who ranks on the first page for specific phrases.
If you’ve checked Webmaster Tools and found no manual actions listed, yet your traffic has dropped dramatically and your site doesn’t seem to be ranking anywhere near where it used to, you may have been hit by an algorithm update or penalty. These are typically due to a lack of good, unique content on your website, or because the links pointing to your site are low quality.
The best way to fix an algorithmic penalty is to research it, identify the issues with your website that caused it to happen, and then devote your time and energy to improving the quality of your site. You can’t make your website appear on Google, or improve its ranking, if they don’t approve of its content!
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Has your site accidentally blocked google?
Finally, although uncommon, some webmasters can accidentally block Google from crawling or indexing their websites. This can happen while editing the robots.txt file.
Some site owners choose to use the robots.txt file on their server to keep Google from indexing – that is, including in search results – certain pages, like “contact us” forms or anything you may want to keep private, but still accessible to visitors. However, if this file is not carefully edited, it can result in important pages, or even the entire site, being blocked.
To check if you have accidentally blocked Google from crawling your site, access your server via File Manager or FTP. Look for a file named robots.txt. (If you do not have a robots.txt file, you do not have this problem, and should refer back to the possibilities outlined above.) Open this file in a text editor and look for two lines like this:
If you see these lines, they basically tell Google—and all other search engines—“don’t crawl any part of my site!” Delete them, save the file, and your site should show up in Google again soon.
You can learn more about using a robots.txt file to block or allow indexing of certain files or folders on this page.
How do you make your website appear on Google’s first page?
Ranking on the first page of Google can be relatively simple in some industries, but also a challenge in others. Beyond the first page, there’s also the illustrious first spot, reserved for the “best of the best.” Despite what some might think, there’s no secret formula to appearing there – anyone can do it, as long as they know how and have the right resources.
If you’re wondering how to make a website appear on Google first, beating out the rest of the sites for that particular phrase, it’s going to come down to these factors:
- The number of links from high quality sites pointing to yours
- The amount of high quality content available on your site
- The way users interact with your website (ex. the amount of time they spend on each page, whether or not they leave as soon as they arrive)
- How many times, and in what context, the keyword or related phrases in question appear on your website
- How long your website has been around
Having the right combination of these factors is what will give you the ability to rank in the top spot. However, you can’t make a website appear on Google’s first page, much less #1, overnight. It takes time, dedication, and hard work to get there. It may seem like too much work, but you’d be surprised by how high the ROI can be on SEO, specifically SEO that gets you to the front page.
In a March 2016 turn of events, Google outright confirmed the top three ranking factors its search algorithm takes into account when judging websites. Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev went on record confirming that the top three factors are:
- 1 & 2: Backlinks and content
- 3: RankBrain
One and two are lumped together because he did not confirm whether backlinks or content was the more important ranking factor.
Even though Google confirmed the top three ranking factors, it’s important to remember that its algorithm relies on more than 200 individual ranking factors, measurements, and criterion to accurately judge websites.
It’s also important not to get caught up in checking the boxes of every single ranking factor. This leads to a mentality of creating content for the search algorithm, and not for users, which is explicitly the opposite of what Google recommends.
While the algorithm may not be quite there yet, Google’s vision is for high quality content to trump all else, regardless of technical SEO discrepancies.
In short, it’s always best to strive for great content. You’ll be surprised by how quickly truly high quality content can rank well in the search engine results.
If you don’t have the time or resources needed to get your website to the first page in Google, you can hire an experienced SEO company, like WebFX, to help you.
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Learn more about improving your website’s visibility in search
We hope this page has helped you learn a little more about why you aren’t showing up in search, and given you some ideas on how you can resolve the problem. If you still have questions about not showing up in search, or are still asking “how do I make my website appear on Google?” the Google Webmaster Tools Help page is a great place to start.
If your site isn’t appearing in Google, or you are having problems with your site not ranking in Google searches as highly as you think it should, we can help. WebFX, an award-winning SEO company, specializes in helping businesses just like yours improve their search engine rankings, recover from Google penalties, and appear in search results again.
To learn more about our services, and how we can help you improve your visibility in search, visit our search engine optimization page or contact us using the form below.