One of 2 questions arises when a lot of people venture into the world of search engine optimization or when they get one of their first websites. Both of these questions mean the same thing but are slightly different:
I Can’t Find My Website on Google
My Website Doesn’t Show Up on Google
Many people ask one of these 2 questions because they don’t understand some of the basics of SEO. The first question that needs to be ask is what are they searching for that their websites isn’t showing up in Google or one of the other search engines. A lot of times website owners “assume” that just because they now have a website and it is on a specific subject or topic that it should immediate show up in the search engines. They go to Google and search for “XYZ widgets”, the topic of their website, and they don’t see it and assume that it can’t be found or it just isn’t showing up.
Search engine optimization takes time along with a bunch of other basics I’ll outline. One of the quickest ways to see if Google has found your website is to use the search operator “site:”. Here is an example on how to format this in Google and an example of Twitter’s index:
This will show you if Google has your site in their index. Notice right below the search box there is a line that says “About 1,230,000,000 results”. That means that Google has index around 1.23 billion pages from Twitter.com. The search engine’s index is their catalog of the pages they’ve crawled on a particular site. Crawling and indexing are the first steps to getting your website to rank. Once the search engines have your site in their index, the search engine can then run the pages through their algorithms to determine where they rank amongst all the other pages on the internet that are similar. As long as the number that Google displays is 1 or more, then Google has found your website!
Now, that only answers half of the problem because you’re probably more interest in why your site doesn’t show up for the general phrases or keywords that the website is about. This is a little more complicated to diagnose right out of the gate because there are a lot of factors that go into this like the content of your website, the number of links and the quality of those links that are pointing to your website and all the other SEO basics. Two easy ways to find out if your website is ranking for more general phrases would be to either using a ranking program or checking your analytics.
A simple ranking program is called Rank Checker by SEOBook.com. Its a Firefox plugin that allows you to put keywords into it and run them to see if your website is found. If it finds your website ranking for a particular keyword or phrase, it tells you the position of that ranking. The key here is that you need to know they keywords that your website is ranking for, or the keywords that you’re targeting.
Analytics is a better way to see what your website is ranking for. Most hosting providers give free stats with your hosting service. The stats would either be AWStats or Webalizer. These stats programs will give you a very basic look into what people have found your website by. There is a keywords or a search engine section that shows you the referring keyword terms. Another analytics program that you can get for free is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a little more robust feature wise that the other 2 programs and can be installed fairly easily.
These 2 things should show you if your website is showing up for general keywords and phrase. If not, go back to the basics with creating unique content and building links to your website.
As most know, SEO traffic is something that gets built up over time. You spend upfront time doing research, picking your targets, then getting your hands dirty with the details. It is very rewarding to be able to take a site and start making improvements to see the traffic increase from the search engines. The #1 most annoying thing that can happen is a robots.txt gets uploaded that starts to tank your search traffic. To give some background, a robots.txt file is a simple text file that gives the search engines instructions like where to find your sitemap and what not to crawl. You might use a robots.txt file to disallow a search engine from crawling your content management system’s (CMS) admin or another password protected part of your site.
An example of a robots.txt file that would disallow a WordPress CMS admin would look like this:
If I didn’t want any search engines crawling my site, I would do this:
That simple little / can get a whole entire site removed from the search engine results pages (serps). Time and time again I’ve seen sites fall to this terrible problem. One of the ways I’ve seen it happen is the development company uses a server where they test new features, code, etc. They use a robots.txt to tell the search engines to not index the development site since it would be a duplicate of the live site. When they finish their programming, they copy files from the development site to the live site, forgetting about the robots.txt and taking it live. Weeks or even months later, someone is putting something together and finds the site not ranking for even their brand name.
I’m super excited! I’ve wanted to go to Pubcon for a few years now, almost went last year but was super slammed and couldn’t escape to Vegas for it. We’re leaving today, flying out of Cleveland around lunch time and will be in Vegas early this afternoon.
There are a ton of awesome events at Pubcon. My good friend DK really goes all out I hear with the poker tournament, burgers, fight clubs and more! Check out his overview here. He has 2 Fight Clubs this year: Fight Club at Randy Coutures’ gym and Fight Club with Robert Drysdale. Drysdale is a really awesome dude, super laid back. I got to meet him at ThinKTank this summer. Check out his site for more on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Las Vegas. He is also in the video below which is pretty slick.
Can’t wait to connect with friends at Pubcon! Brian has a bet going that he can out drink both the Madhat and Streko. He better not back out, its going to be absolutely hysterical to see!
I’m pleased to announce that I will be speaking at the Karcher Group’s Akron SEO Seminar in September! I will be talking about social media and all the fun stuff involved. The conference is the 18th and 19th of September and there are still spots available to register! We will also be having Anita Campbell from Small Business Trends and Jake Baillie from STN Labs speaking at this seminar.
Some of the topics that will be covered besides social media are blogging, copy writing, PPC, and link building. I have heard Jake speak before and he is a really good speaker so I’m excited to be speaking along with him and all the others. If you are interesting in attending, you can click on the link below. My discount code is COREY and it will save you $100 which is an awesome discount!
Akron SEO Seminar
I read Shoemoney’s post within this last week and I honesty didn’t get into the debate about 95% of SEO’s being “the used car salesmen” of search engine marketing (SEM). But then yesterday his podcast with Danny Sullivan about 95% of SEO’s being “shady” and it really got me thinking about the real definition of an SEO and what their value should be. Ultimately Danny and Shoe made really good point, and I understand Shoe position.
What value do we truly offer as SEO’s or SEM’s? Danny talked a lot about new things coming in and kind of branching off SEO like reputation management, social media, etc. and I think they are viable SEO activities but at the same time, I feel they shouldn’t be used to “razzle and dazzle” but rather compliment the basics such as the title tags, building out content, and link building. The more and more I learn about SEO, true link building is an art and not such an easy one. I mean, people are building out great content and getting links back, but I think there are some elements to link building that can be tougher than just content creation.
I think this podcast was awesome and more real discussions like this should take place between people in the industry! Thanks Shoe and Danny!