After spending weeks to months building out your website, polishing your content, and publishing it on the web, one of the most rewarding feelings is seeing it listed in Google’s official search engine results pages (SERPs). But if you search for your website and find nothing, you might feel a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Don’t be too worried. There are many things that could prevent your website from showing up in Google search results, and most of them can be fixed with minimal effort.
- 6 Things Stopping Your Website From Showing Up in Google
- How Google Indexes Content
- Why Your Site Isn’t Showing Up
- What to Do Now
6 Things Stopping Your Website From Showing Up in Google
How Google Indexes Content
First, it’s a good idea to understand how Google indexes content and how search engines work in general. Google is constantly crawling the web with the help of bots, looking for new content to add to its index; you can think of the index as a gigantic library of web content, which is later evaluated in response to user queries.
Eventually, this content shows up in SERPs based on its relevance to the query and its authority. There are many ranking factors to consider here. According to Link.Build, “It’s easier to control the on-page metrics that matter for SEO. Things like load speed, proper alt tags, meta descriptions, internal linking, sitemaps, SSL and page speed are well within a standard SEO’s control. But very few SEO agencies are equipped to provide the link building scale to truly move the needle for both startups and enterprise brands.”
Of course, if your site isn’t showing up in Google at all, ranking is the least of your concerns; you need to focus on getting indexed first.
Why Your Site Isn’t Showing Up
There are several things that can prevent your site from showing up in a specific Google search. For example:
1. You haven’t given it enough time.
First, it’s possible that you simply haven’t given it enough time. Google is constantly crawling the web looking for new content, so it’s only a matter of time before you’re discovered naturally. If you launch a website and start looking for it the next day, you’re probably being impatient; wait a week or two and see if your site turns up then. You can also submit a sitemap to Google directly, but this won’t necessarily accelerate the process; it will just ensure that Google can see the canonical version of each of your pages.
2. You’re blocking your site from being indexed.
There’s a chance that you’re actively blocking your site from being indexed. If you have a “noindex” tag in the backend of your site, it’s going to prevent Google from indexing your pages. This is a simple fix; just remove the tag, and you should no longer have any issues.
3. You’re accidentally blocking crawlers.
You could also be accidentally blocking crawlers from accessing your site. This usually happens because of a setting in your robots.txt file, which allows you to communicate with web crawlers and other bots. If Googlebot can’t crawl your site because of exclusions here, it’s not going to be indexed.
If you’re not showing up for certain searches, it could be because you don’t have any backlinks pointing to your site. Google uses backlinks as a way to measure a site’s trustworthiness, or “authority.” It’s a good idea to build at least a few initial backlinks so you can get enough authority to be recognized.
5. You’re experiencing technical issues.
If your site is experiencing certain technical issues, it won’t be able to be crawled, and it won’t be able to be indexed. For example, if you’re experiencing a server outage or a sitewide 404 error, your site may be undiscoverable until you fix it.
6. You’re dealing with a manual Google penalty.
There’s a small chance you’re dealing with a Google manual penalty, which forcefully deindexes your site. These penalties are typically reserved only for egregious offenders, so if your site is new, you probably don’t have one. If you do, you’ll get a notification about it via Google Search Console.
What to Do Now
Let’s say your site isn’t listed in Google’s search index. What do you do now?
The first step is determining the root of the problem. Review the possibilities in the previous section, and see if you can narrow down the issue. In most cases, a quick fix is all it takes to resolve the situation. After making tweaks to your website, be sure to wait a few weeks; again, it takes time for Google to update its search index.
If you’re still experiencing issues after several weeks and corrective action, there may be something more complex interfering with your web listing. You may need to contact a technical expert to troubleshoot the problem.