You’ve done all the hard work — got a hosting package, installed WordPress, picked a nice theme and wrote some content. You hit publish on your first post. Time to rake in that traffic, right? But, when looking for your own site in Google you can’t seem to find it anywhere. You throw your hands in the air: “My website isn’t showing up on Google, what’s going on!?” Well, here are five reasons that might explain why you can’t find your site.
1: It’s too fresh, Google doesn’t know about it yet
First, don’t panic! If your site is new, it might simply be a matter chilling out and checking back in a little while. There’s a lot of moving parts in getting your site crawled, indexed and ranked. Sometimes, it takes days or maybe even weeks for Google to discover your site.
You can look up your site with the
site: search operator in Google. Type
site:yoast.com and you’ll see a list of pages found on that domain. If you type in the full URL of a specific article, you should see only one search result return. If you see your pages, this means that Google does know about your site and has put — at least some of it — in its index. Once you discover that your page is in the index, but you think it is not performing well, you might want to dig deeper.
Do install Yoast SEO and submit the generated XML sitemap to Google Search Console to help speed up Google’s discovery process. In Search Console, you can also use the URL Inspection tool to find out how specific pages are doing. It tells you exactly how Google crawls and views your site.
2: You’ve noindexed your site or the piece of content
One of the most common reasons for Google not indexing your site or a specific page is because it has — inadvertently — got noindexed. Adding the
noindex meta robots tags to a page tells Googlebot that it can crawl a page, but that the results can’t be added to the index.
How to check if your page is noindexed? That’s easy, simply open the page and view the source code. Somewhere in the head of the page, you’ll find the code below. This tells search engine crawlers that the content of the page shouldn’t be added to the index and, thus, keep it from ranking.
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
It happens! Even we occasionally make a mistake and inadvertently noindex a post. Luckily, it’s an easy fix. Willemien describes how to set a piece of content back on the right track with Yoast SEO.
3: Google can’t crawl your site
You might have told Google not to index your content, but it’s also possible you’ve told Google not to crawl your site at all! Blocking crawlers in a so-called robots.txt file is a sure-fire way to never get any traffic. Blocking robots is easier than you might think. For instance, WordPress has a Search Engine Visibility setting that — once set to Discourage search engines from indexing this site — does its utmost best to keep crawlers out. Uncheck this to make your site available again.
From WordPress 5.3 on, WordPress uses the noindex approach described in point 2 to handle indexing of sites via the Search Engine Visibility setting. This change was necessary because Google sometimes still indexed pages it encountered.
4: Your content is not up to par and/or doesn’t match users intent
There could be a number of technical reasons why your site doesn’t show in Google. That’s not the whole story, though. It can also be your content. Your content might simply not be good or authoritative enough for Google to pick for that specific keyphrase. Think about how you as a human being would find your site. Don’t focus on Google.
Content not showing up in Google might “simply” be the case of not matching with what the searcher is expecting. Your content might not fit the search intent of the user. In this case, you have to do keyword research and take a good look at search intent as well. What do people search for, in what terms and what do they mean to do? Once you know that, you can use Yoast SEO the help you write awesome content.
Keep in mind that maybe, just maybe, your site operates in a highly competitive industry. Without focusing on the long tail, it’ll probably be impossible to end up with good rankings.
5: Your content lacks high-quality backlinks
Way back when Google was just a fledgling start-up, rankings were determined in part by popularity. The thinking was that the more links a site or page got, the more people view this site as a valuable source and Google should put it at the top of the results page. While a lot has changed in over two decades, links still play a part in the discoverability and ranking of content. You can rank without links, but it’s just damn hard.
Creating incredible content is a good way to get links to your pages. High-quality content tends to attract clicks from readers who might also share the content far and wide via social media as well. All this helps to get those links. Of course, there’s more you can do to get links in a natural, non-spammy way: here are fifteen ways of getting high-quality backlinks.
Ps: Fixing your internal links also helps Google and searchers discover your content!
Bonus: Have you been hit by a manual action?
A quick one to cap off this article: if your site isn’t showing up on Google, it might be because of a manual action — a penalty. There are a lot of reasons why you could get a manual action, but the most common ones are because of spammy links or violations of the Google rules. Sites that get a manual action tend to try to operate in a shady way to misguide search engines into giving them a high ranking.
Normally, site owners get an email from Google telling them that their site has received a manual action. You can also simply check the Manual Actions page in Google Search Console.
There are more reasons
This is not an all-encompassing post as there are numerous reasons for a site or post not showing up in Google. This post gives you a quick idea of where to look when not seeing your post in a search engine. If you want to improve your rankings, there are ways to write high-quality and SEO-friendly blog posts.