Here’s the scenario; you’re a small business owner and you’ve just launched your new website to the world. Now you’re wondering, how long will it be before searchers find your site in the search engine results page (SERP)?
There are a couple of things that need to occur before this happens. The site needs to be indexed by the search engine. There is no set time for Google specifically to initially index your site – the time taken can vary based on:
- Popularity of the site (whether it has any inbound links to it)
- Whether the content is crawl-able (server responses and content type)
- Site structure (how pages interlink)
It is possible for a site to be crawled/indexed within 4 days to 4 weeks, but it may take longer. The good news is that you can cover the first bullet using social media, commenting, guest blogging, and email marketing. The second bullet has more to do with how your site is built and how clean the code actually is. Most popular content management systems contain extremely clean code, making them easy to crawl. Every well-optimized site should also contains a sitemap.xml that shows the search engines just how the pages interlink.
Here are some things to check/ensure to be sure things are optimal for crawling/indexing:
- Check server responses – pages should return 200/OK responses. Use tools like http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ to check the response.
- Verify your site – sign up for a Google Webmaster Tools account. This is not the same as submitting your URL. This can help in discovering/locating/understanding problems as/when/if they occur.
- Submit the site to Google – this can be completed by signing up for a Google Webmaster Tools account and then following these instructions – http://support.google.com/sites/answer/100283?hl=en
- Be discovered – if at all possible, have a few links to the site from other sites. These links should be from related/topical/relevant sites. They should also be quality/trusted/popular/reliable sites. The more the better.
- Provide a sitemap – once again, most content management systems contain one already, but you should check with your developer/agency just to make sure.
After you complete all of these items, you’ll have a higher probability of seeing your site in the SERP quicker. One cool way to check to see which pages Google has indexed from your site is to type site:www.yourdomain.com in the Google search bar. The results will show you the total.
Once you see your pages being indexed, the next step is to try to beat your online competition by ranking higher in the SERP. The best way to accomplish this is by creating a content schedule and making changes to your site often.
Using your BoostSuite account, you can head to the Boost>Pages>Search Engine Listings interface to see how all your pages appear in the SERP. This is important to know because this is the very top of your online sales funnel. You cannot get people to click on your pages in the SERP if you have unformatted/unstructured page titles and meta descriptions.
You can use calls to action in your page titles and meta descriptions to drive more click-throughs to your site. Would you rather click on a page title that reads “Contact” or one that reads “Contact us today to find out how we can improve your online marketing results”?