I got an email from a friend today asking me a question that I get asked quite a lot. How do you make your site show up in Google?
It’s a great question. First though, ask yourself a question. What terms are you searching upon when you’re expecting to see your site pop up to the top of search results. Are you searching for something too generic? The more general your search is the competition you’ll have for showing up on the list for those words. For example, My blog doesn’t show up when searching for “technology blog” because there are a million of them. But if I search for “john morton super geek”, although I’m not number 1, I’m fifth on the list today. It changes over time though. I need to continue being “john morton” (or, better yet, “john f morton,” who is more unique that “john morton”) and a lot more of a “super geek” in what I write.
Before we go any further though, let’s take a look at some tools Google gives all of us to help make our sites show up in their searches. Google Webmaster Central is the place to start. (You can read the About Google Webmaster Tools page for lots of information.)
On the Webmaster Tools dashboard you can see a thorough audit of your site. Once you’ve set your site up properly, there are many interesting things to check out here. I find What Googlebot sees a really helpful page. Google explains why:
This information provides good insight into how your site is seen by others. Anchor text gives Google additional information about your site, so if it’s not descriptive or useful (for example, the link in the text “Click here” provides no data to Google), you might want to work with the owners of those sites to update it. Anchor text gives Google additional information about your site, so if it’s not descriptive or useful (for example, the link in the text “Click here” provides no data to Google), you might want to work with the owners of those sites to update it.
For instance, if you want to include a link on your blog to this entry, try to make the anchor link read something more informative than “click here”. Try something like “how I made my site show up in Google” and it helps give better search results for this page. Also be sure you link to the full article page of an entry, in this case http://supergeekery.com/geekblog/comments/how_to_make_your_site_show_up_in_google/ , rather than a home page, because a home page will change over time. Of course, if you’d like to try this out for yourself, please feel free to use this as an example.
Another useful tool here is Google Sitemaps which provide “a way for you to give Google information about your site” by having you upload a detailed list of the links around your site in an XML document. I use some software, RAGE Sitemap Automator, to help make my Google Sitemap XML documents. It not only does the site crawling for you to create the XML document, it has a simple FTP interface to upload the file to the right place on your server and notify Google that it’s been updated. It costs about $30.
The reason a site’s ranking changes because the content on the web changes. Google is constantly ranking the relevance of all the sites online by their content. So to rank higher in the searches you’re hoping to rank high in requires you to have relevant content on your site to match that search criteria. Basically, be useful and relevant. And be updating your site.
Having the right content is just the start though. Having other people find your content relevant and creating links on their sites to your site helps Google recognize the value of your content. One way of being relevant and being recognized for it is to be persistently and consistently on message. If I spent only 5% of my blog actually talking about super geeky topics, I bet you’d be less likely to come here to find super geeky writing.
Finally, I’ve heard that Google gives some weight to sites that have been around longer. That’s another reason to stick around and work at updating your site with consistently good content.
Got any other tips? Please post a comment and share your ideas. I’d love to hear them.