Search engines are a vital tool to help small businesses reach their customers. They’re the number one place customers go to start discovering new products, restaurants and services, according to the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Digital Marketing. Yet one third of small and medium businesses aren’t using common digital platforms like search.
We know that search engine ranking is important – but what if your website isn’t showing up in a Google search?
More customers are using eCommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic than ever before. This behaviour isn’t going to slow down anytime soon – especially during peak retail periods like Christmas. With 25% of consumers saying they’d stop considering a small business they haven’t used before if they can’t find information about it online, it’s essential to make sure your small business website is showing up in search engines. Or else, you could be missing out on an opportunity to grow your customer base during a critical sales period.
If you’re managing your own website, there are a few important things to consider to make sure your site is searchable. Follow our step-by-step guide for checking whether your website is indexing in search engines.
1. Check your website is listed on search engines
Find out whether your website is in a search engine’s index by doing a site search for your home URL. Here’s how:
a) Head to your search engine of choice.
b) Turn off “safe search” (this can accidentally filter out results).
c) Enter “site:YOURURL.com.au”.
d) If your search returns results for your site, you’re listed.
2. Is your website not showing up? Here are a few reasons why that could be
If your website isn’t appearing in search results, it’s time to figure out why. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- Your website design hasn’t been deployed properly, possibly because it’s new or recently updated.
- There’s a technical issue blocking search engine software from “crawling” your site. Programs that are used to automatically discover and scan websites (like a robot or spider) are generically referred to as a “crawler”. Once a page has been crawled, it’s then considered “indexed” (which should show in search results).
- It’s been successfully deployed but hasn’t had time to index in search engines. According to Google Help, users should allow at least a week before assuming something is wrong.
- It’s also possible for some of your website’s pages to be indexed and some not. When you search your website’s name, the search engine will show what parts of your site are indexed. If you think specific pages may not be showing up, search the specific URL. For example: “site:YOURURL.com.au/stores”.
3. Correct issues and boost your website’s performance
To make sure your site appears in search results, utilise some of the free online tools to get your website verified. Google is by far the most commonly used search engine in Australia, with 94% market share, followed by Bing (around 4%), DuckDuckGo and Yahoo (both less than 1%). It’s fair to say that if you’re short on time, concentrating your efforts on Google will deliver the strongest return on investment.
- Verify your site by submitting its details using Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. Yahoo uses the same indexing tool as Bing, so if you’ve submitted your site to Bing, you’ve automatically submitted it to Yahoo as well.
- If pages are missing, consider incorporating a sitemap into your website. From there you can also submit it to your search engine of choice.
- Follow Google’s lead and read the more detailed instructions in their articles Why is my page missing from Google Search? and Build and submit a sitemap.
Resources for common website building services to help verify your website:
- Squarespace – Verifying your site with Google Search Console and Verifying your site with Bing Webmaster Tools
- Wordpress – Site Kit by Google plugin
- Wix – Verifying your site with the Wix Site Verification Tool (for Google Search Console, Pinterest, Bing Webmaster Center, Yandex Webmaster, and Naver Webmaster Tools).
Once you’ve completed these steps successfully, you should have solved the problem, while gaining knowledge of the technical aspects of search engines.
In the Telstra Business Intelligence Digital Marketing report, John Ball, SMB Director at Google Australia, has some tips on other ways your online business can meet customer expectations by using Google tools. “There are some simple steps Aussie businesses can take on Google to boost their online presence,” he says. “These include verifying their website…on Maps, making their website mobile-responsive, reaching more customers with Google Ads, and making sure they’re brushing up on digital skills with online training programs like Grow with Google.”
Once you’ve made sure your website is showing up in search engines, the next step you might want to take is to work on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Discover how SEO can help you grow your online presence.