You are certainly not the first to ask why your site is not showing up on Google, and you definitely will not be the last. The whole point of SEO training is to try and avoid this very situation. The trouble is that it is hard to answer the question without more information.
If your website did show up on Google previously and has since disappeared or just fallen significantly in the Google rankings, then it is clear that something has happened to change how your sites importance is viewed by the worlds largest search engine. If it has never shown up scroll on down towards the end of this article.
Have you changed anything on your website recently? If so, have you got a backup of your website as it was before the changes? I’m willing to bet you don’t. I’ve been guilty of that cardinal sin myself on occasion!
So what are the factors that could cause your website to drop or disappear suddenly? There are a lot. I’ll cover the most obvious.
- Your website has been hacked and malicious code has been inserted on your site. If you suspect somebody has hacked your website, Check in Googles Webmaster Tools. There may well be a warning there. Remember it is not enough to just remove any offending code or hidden keyword stuffing. You need to close the hole that made the hack possible in the first place. Consult your hosting provider as a first point of call. They should be able to steer you in the right direction.
- You made an alteration that broke the structure of your website or made it otherwise difficult to read by a search engine. If you had a W3C compliant website to start with, simply running the site through the markup validation service should show you any problems fairly quickly. If your website has more errors than words, then this in itself could be part of the problem!
- Keyword stuffing or other “naughty” practices. Have you been a bit overzealous in your SEO efforts? Your website must must must read well to actual human beings. After all, that’s who the site is for in the first place. Do not repeat words ad nauseum in your title tags, description and again throughout headers and the general text. Once in each will suffice (even that may be overdoing it in some cases). If a search engine algorithm suspects you are trying to “cheat” you will pay for it.
- Those other “naughty” practices. Text the same colour as your background (only readable to robots), text sized too small to read, serving different pages to users than to search engines, the list goes on. If what you did was in that list then you already know what you were doing. For the rest of you, don’t worry about this one.
- Text content in Flash or Pictures. Search engines cannot read text in a picture or flash presentation. It may look…. well, “flash”, and wow your human viewers, but they will never get to see it if it does not show up in a search! If you put text in flash, try to have the same text repeated in standard html tags elsewhere on your page.
- Buying links. I’m not talking about buying an ad on a website (although I would question the worth of doing so). What I am talking about here is buying links in bulk as it were. These links, once the link farm has been discovered are not just worthless, they can damage your site. Short term gains are not worth the fall! Getting out of that one is not easy, and sometimes the easier route is to start from scratch with a new domain!
- Adult Content or references to Gambling or Pharmaceuticals. I don’t even like writing those words here!
- Linking to “bad neighbourhoods”. Be careful who you link to. Your website is judged, in part, on the quality of websites that link too you, and also on those you link out to. Neighbourhoods matter. I always try to have as few outbound links as possible by the way. If the link does not add to my users experience it does not happen.
- Downtime. If your website is not hosted well or has a lot of downtime for some other reason, then it will have an adverse affect on how your site ranks on Google. Why would they show a website that may or may not be accessible… it’s not like there is a shortage of websites to choose from!
- A Google Penalty! Im referring to an algorithmic rather than a manual penalty here. Google updates it’s algorithms regularly. A sharp, sudden drop in rank could be the result, or possibly a smaller downward (or even upward if you’re lucky) trend could also be down to an update like Panda or Penguin.
What about if your site has never shown up on Google? This is quite normal initially. It takes time for websites to be found by search engines. It takes much longer for them to trust your website and want to list it in the position that you might like it to show up in.
Submit your sitemap to all the search engines. Google tends to be the quickest to respond. This tells them that your site exists and what pages are on it. Check that you are following the guidelines with your site and then just be patient.
One other thing that can go wrong with a new site is its history. If Previous owners of the domain broke guidelines/trust, then you will probably have an uphill battle with getting your site to perform well.
If your site is not show up well, or at all on Google, then it is not the end of the world. There will be a reason. It may take time and tears to fix the problem, but it can be fixed…. no matter what!