If your site is not showing up on Google, it is most likely for one of the following reasons:
- You have a new site and Google’s crawler has not yet found it.
- Google doesn’t consider your site to be sufficiently “trustworthy” or “relevant” to show it for the keywords you want to rank for.
- You’ve blocked the googlebot crawler in your robots.txt.
- You’ve set a page or the site to “noindex,” ticked the “discourage search engines from indexing this site” box in WordPress, or you’ve set another page as the canonical version.
- You’ve incurred a penalty and Google has deindexed your site.
- There is a technical issue with your site that is preventing Google from crawling and indexing your site.
This post is going to help you to diagnose and potentially address the issues preventing your site from showing in Google search.
If you’d like some assistance with diagnosing and fixing your SEO issues, visit our search engine optimization service page
If Your Site is New, Google May Not Have Found it
Google crawls the internet by following links on websites that it has already indexed. If no websites are linking to your brand new website, it probably doesn’t know that your site exists. The fastest way to get Google to know that your site exists and what pages it contains is to share a sitemap with it. You can do this with Google’s Search Console.
How Submit Your Sitemap to Google
If needed, I wrote a post on how to submit your website to Google that will walk you through this in more detail.
First, you need to create a sitemap
If you have a WordPress site with the Yoast SEO plugin, it has generated the sitemap for you. If you go to your website and add a /sitemap_index.xml, you’ll be able to view it (you can view our sitemap at https://sagapixel.com/sitemap_index.xml). There are other plugins available to WordPress that will generate your sitemap for you, just check the WordPress repository and you will find them.
Next, you’ll need a Google Search Console account
The next step to submitting your site to Google is to create a Google Search Console account.
Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is the tool that Google provides to the owners of websites to allow them to know the index status of their websites. In addition to providing data on the number of times that a site shows up in search, the queries it shows up for, and a ton of other data points, it also allows you to submit a sitemap and request indexing.
Submit your sitemap to Google
Once you create the account and verify your domain, you’ll see a tab on the left that says “index” and under it “sitemaps.”
You’re going to add a new sitemap and click “submit.”
Time to request indexing
Once you’ve submitted your sitemap, you’re going to want Google to crawl the site sooner rather than later. You’re going to click on the “URL inspection” tool on the left sidebar.
You’re going to type the URL of your site in the bar that pops up across the top of the screen and hit enter.
If your page is indexed, you’ll see a screen like this:
If it is not, click on the “request indexing” button and Google will put your page in the queue to be crawled.
What to Do if Your Site is in Google’s Index, but not Showing for Keywords You Want to Rank for
The Key to Earning Search Share is to Earn Trust.
It can be safely argued that the entire search engine optimization (SEO) industry exists for this reason. It is extremely common for someone to put up a website for a business he has, only to have Google bury it on page 9 (or not show it at all).
Let’s look at it from Google’s perspective, however: why should it show your site to its users?
Is there something extremely unique about your business or website? Is there a reason that Google should trust you so much right out of the gate that your site should leap over other sites that have been up for months or years?
How to earn trust
This is one of the most contentious topics in SEO, with two camps arguing bitterly in support of their view.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEOs take an approach of earning trust by producing value for internet users. This is the way that Google wants us to manage our websites: do research to find topics that are relevant to our businesses and helpful to internet users and create unique, valuable content around those topics (something like the article you are reading right now).
Google takes notice when people seem to find what they are looking for on your website, or conversely, if they have to visit other websites to find what they are looking for. Additionally, if you are creating unique assets that provide value to people, other websites are bound to link to them. This is referred to as “earning links” or “linkbuilding.”
The combination of fulfilling search intent and earning links from other website demonstrate to the search engine that you should be trusted and it should return your website for the results when people search for topics related to your web pages.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEOs force trust by getting links to their websites using a variety of methods. The advantage of using these techniques is that they usually require less effort and work more quickly than white hat SEO methods. The disadvantage is that the engineers at Google are usually pretty quick to pick up on the methods they exploit, making them less than optimal long-term tactics for a business.
Did You Block Googlebot in Your Robots.txt File?
Your robots.txt file tells crawlers what pages it can and cannot crawl on your site. If you accidentally block a page or a folder that has an important asset in it, Google will be unlikely to index your site.
For example, below is a screenshot of the New York Times’ robots.txt:
Any pages that are on this list will not be indexed. Check your robots.txt to see if you accidentally blocked a page you want to show up on Google. This post isn’t going to get deep into robots.txt, but if you need help, reach out to us. If you want to do it yourself, check out this article by Cognitive SEO on the topic.
If You Set Your Page to “Noindex,” it Won’t Be in Google’s Index (Imagine That!)
How to Tell if You Set Your Page to Noindex
A “noindex” directive tells search engines to not put a page in the index. If you did this, it would stand to reason that your page isn’t going to show up on Google.
The most effective way to tell if your page is noindexed is to go to the page and view the source code (don’t worry, you don’t have to be a developer to do this). Once you’re looking at the page of code, do a CTRL+F or CMD+F and search for the word “noindex.” If nothing shows up, you haven’t noindexed your page.
If you are using the popular Yoast SEO plugin in a WordPress Site, you should check to see if you noindexed the page there. Go to the Yoast plugin, click on the gear on the left.
Make sure that they “allow search engines to show this page in search results” is set to “yes.” Also, be sure that the “canonical URL ” isn’t set to another page. A “rel=canonical” tells the search engine that this is not the original content and not to index it, rather to index the “canonical” url.
Your Website Won’t Show on Google if it Has Been Penalized.
If your website used to be in the search results and it isn’t anymore, confirm it by doing a search for site:yourdomain.com.
If nothing comes up, you might have a problem.
If you haven’t done so already, verify your domain in Google Search Console and check to see if you receive a notice about receiving a manual penalty. Google will usually tell you if your website has been penalized and the reasons for the penalty. It also allows you to requests a reconsideration of the site once you’ve addressed the offending issues.
Penalties usually occur when a website does something that it shouldn’t have done, such as spam links, scrape content, or even get hacked. Google tends to lift the penalty once you take care of whatever the issue is, but if it’s something big like link spam, you may have a lot of work ahead of you.
What to do if There’s a Technical Issue with Your Website
Unless you’re experienced with technical SEO, this isn’t something that you’ll be able to do yourself. Especially when dealing with ecommerce sites, it can be very easy to develop a site that works for users but is not accessible to search engine crawlers. If googlebot can’t understand your content, it’s not going to be able to deliver it as a result.
If you think this may be something affecting your site, contact a technical SEO.
I Know How Frustrating This Can Be
You’ve put time, effort, and resources into your website and now you’re not getting any visitors. Your best bet is to reach out to an SEO consultatnt to help you out, or even check out some of the SEO groups on Facebook.
I really hope this was helpful and please leave a comment below if it was.