There are lots of instances where marketers and SEOs feel like they have done everything right only for their websites to not be found on search engine result pages. It can be incredibly frustrating to do all that work and still see the visitor count at zero. The bad news is that there are a lot of factors that could lead to this. On the other hand, many of these issues can be solved with a few common fixes. Today, we are going to look at why your website might not be on Google and what you can do to fix the situation.
Check If Your Website is Ranked
Before we start tinkering, it is important to check that the website has been indexed and is ranking somewhere else, maybe on the second or third page. To do this, type “site:your-website.com”, using your real website’s domain name in place of that placeholder and without the quotes. Once you do this, you might see some results, usually the homepage.
In some cases, the homepage may be indexed and ranked, but specific pages are not. To see if a specific page is ranking, type the same command, replacing your home URL with the address of the page you would like to check.
If you cannot find your homepage or specific pages, here are some reasons why.
Your Website is Too New
Because there are millions of posts and pages added to the internet each day, it takes some time for Google to find them all. This process takes anywhere from four days to a month. Some people have had their sites indexed faster, but there are some who say it took longer for them.
The ideal time to wait to see if your website gets indexed and ranked is a week. If your website is still not indexed at this time, you can manually ask Google to do so. Google Search Console has a URL Inspection tool that tells you if your site has been indexed. If not, you can request indexing and the only thing left to do is wait.
You Do Not Have Enough Content
Google does not value websites that have little content the same way it does those that have lots of content. Because of this, sites with too little content will often have to wait longer to be indexed. Thin content, as it is called, is one of the reasons why marketers urge that you have 5-10 pieces of content ready before you publish your website. Also, ensure the content added is around 1000 words in length because this has been shown to be the optimal word count for ranking on Google.
Your Sitemap is Missing or Inaccessible
A sitemap is an XML document that lists all the content on your website. Google uses the sitemap to know what links to follow and to know how different pages and pieces of content are connected. A sitemap also contains information on when your website was updated, what the different links contain, and other information.
Without a sitemap, the Google crawlers have nothing to follow and thus cannot index the site. There are instances when the crawlers will index sites without sitemaps, but this does not always work as expected.
In addition to checking that you have a sitemap, check that it is accessible. Your sitemap should be located at your-website.com/sitemap.xml or your-website.com/robots.txt. If the sitemap is placed anywhere else, crawlers will not be able to reach it.
You are Blocking Indexing
There are instances where you will block indexing without knowing it, which happens to a lot of people using a content management system like WordPress. The content management system’s settings might be adding “noindex” tags to your content and thus blocking indexing. The “noindex” tag is very important when building the website because you do not want your content indexed before your website is done.
However, a lot of people forget to remove it or change the settings that add it, which leads to this issue. Under WordPress, you can find this setting under “Search Engine Visibility”. If you already have a sitemap and the site has been indexed, you will see an error with “unindexed” pages under your “Coverage report” in the Google Search Console.
Canonicalization Link Errors
A canonical link is a link that Google considers to be the main one pointing to pages with duplicate content. Google also prefers this link when ranking your website. You might be wondering how you have duplicate content on your website without adding it, but this depends on how your website is set up.
There are numerous ways to reach your website, with two examples being a link with “WWW” in front of it and one without. Google considers these separate pages, and the issues become more complicated if your website is translated into more than one language.
Google does not like duplicate content and will skip indexing your website if it finds it. This is why it is so important to declare a canonical link when publishing your website. You can also go to Google Search Control and tell Google which is your preferred canonical link, and it will respect it.
You Have Too Few High-quality Backlinks
Although backlinks have fallen in favor as a ranking metric according to Google insiders, they are still a critical factor in determining if your website is an authority or not. If a high-quality website links to your website, it is deemed to be an authority website, and this is indexed faster and ranked higher.
It is not enough to add backlinks from different websites’ you should also try to get as many unique high-quality links pointing to your website. There are numerous tools you could use to know which backlinks point to your pages so that you know where to focus your backlinking efforts.
Getting your site indexed and eventually ranked by Google can be complicated at times, especially when you do not know what Google is looking for and how to rank pages. Fortunately, there are fixes available for all issues you encounter, with indispensable tools like Google Search Console being great options for knowing what is going on with your website’s indexing and ranking.