Search Engines

Finding your site on Google

Now that you have built your website, you most likely want people to find it. One way to get visitors is to directly distribute your website's address and hopefully these connections will help spread the word.

Another way is to have Google and other search engines send visitors to your website.

In this article, we will give you a few tips on how to make sure your website is found on Google and other search engines.

Finding your site on Google

How do search engines work?

The truth of the matter is, no one knows exactly. Most of what we know about search engine optimization (SEO) is based on our own experiences and most of the time, trial and error. So different people will have different advice.

One thing we all know about search engines is a search engine has two major functions:

  1. crawling and building an index
  2. providing a ranked list of relevant websites

Crawling and building an index

Search engines use automated software, known as robots or spiders, to follow links on websites.

For example, the Googlebot is the search bot software that Google uses to collect information about documents on the Internet. The Googlebot goes around from website to website, looking for new and updated information to report back to Google. This is called crawling. The Googlebot finds what to crawl using links. Google then processes all the information gathered by the Googlebot; if the information is determined to be quality content, it is then added to Google's searchable index.

Providing a ranked list of relevant websites

When a person performs an online search, Google looks through its searchable index and returns results that are relevant to the searcher's query. The results are ranked based on the popularity of the websites serving the information – Google assumes that the more popular a website, the more valuable the information it contain must be.

To determine popularity and relevance, Google uses mathematical equations (algorithms). Unfortunately, no one knows exactly how these algorithms work. It is suggested that these algorithms comprise hundreds of variables, or ranking factors – some proven, some controversial and others speculations.

Finding your site on Google

What are some of the most important ranking factors?

Google ranks a page according to a large number of factors (or ranking factors). The exact ranking factors are unfortunately, a trade secret. But there are a number of well-known and proven factors that contribute to the ranking of a page:

  • Keywords in your page meta tags
  • Mobile-friendliness of website
  • Quality of content
  • Frequency of content update (also known as the freshness factor)
  • Quality of links on website, both internal and inbound
  • Social factors (ie. number of Tweets, Facebook Likes and Shares, etc.)
Finding your site on Google

Choosing the right keywords

Keywords are words and phrases that set the tone for your website's content. They are generally the most common words that you use in your title and content to help define what your website is all about. When Google crawls your website, it will pick up on these commonly used words and identifies them as "keywords" to accurately rank your web pages.

It all begins with the words typed into a search box.

When selecting the right keywords for your website, you need to ask yourself:

  • Is the keyword relevant to your website's content?
  • Will searchers find what they are looking for on your website when they search using these keywords?
  • Will they be happy with what they find?
  • Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other goals?

For example, say you run a flower shop. The words that people will use when searching for you website would be "flowers." Other keywords could be "florist" and "bouquets."

We recommend using Google's Keyword Planner to find ideas for the keywords most relevant for your website. The keyword planner lets you learn what people search for in your area, allowing you to find relevant keywords to add to your website's content.

Once you have chosen the keywords you want to use, integrate them into your website's titles and content, but do so naturally – don't overuse keywords (also known as keyword stuffing) – Google is known to penalize such practices.

Finding your site on Google

Integrating keywords in your website meta tags

You may have noticed that the content that shows up on a search engine result isn't always taken directly from the website's content. Instead, it's an excerpt, or a customizable text called meta titles and meta descriptions.

What are site titles and site descriptions?

Site titles and site descriptions are used to describe your website on search engines. This text may not necessarily appear on your website, but rather, this text is a short introduction, or excerpt, to tell search users a little bit about your website.


  • Google only gives you a limited amount of space for your site title and site description. Keep them short and eye-catching.
  • Do you run a local business? Consider adding your location in your site title or description.
  • When adding keywords, keep clarity and don't overuse keywords.

Your site title has a direct impact on your search engine ranking. Site title and description are two of the most important places to include your keywords. For example, when words within a user's search query matches those in your site title, Google will place your website higher on the search results. Google will also bold the matching words and phrases in your title. To maximize the benefit of this feature, make sure you write your site title and description based on what your potential customers will most likely be searching for (hint: use Google Keyword Planner).

Rule of thumb: Always write your site titles and descriptions for human visitors and not search bots! Visitors read these titles and descriptions to decide if they want to click on your result. Make sure your descriptions are short, relevant and readable. The more your result is clicked, the more valuable Google sees it.

How do I add a site title and site description to my website?

If you are using a website builder, you should be able to add a site title and description via your builder's control panel.

For example,

Finding your site on Google

Will my mobile-friendly website rank higher?

In April 2015, Google released a new ranking algorithm that is designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in its mobile search results (ie. users searching from their smartphones).

One of the best ways to check if your website is mobile-friendly is use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool. This tool shows how Google Search sees your pages.

How can I make my website mobile-friendly?

The easiest way is to use a mobile-friendly, responsive template for your website.

If you are using a website builder to create your website, make sure the template design you choose is mobile-friendly or responsive.

If you are using a self-hosted WordPress, you can find responsive templates at WooThemes, Mojo Marketplace and ThemeForest are also great places to purchase premium, responsive WordPress themes.

My website is already mobile-friendly but how do I know if it meets Google's requirements for mobile friendliness?

Even if you already have a mobile-friendly website, it is always good to use Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see how Google Search sees your pages.

You can also use Google's Mobile Search Engine Optimization guide to improve your website's mobile search ranking.

For example,

  • Avoid unplayable videos on your website (ie. don't put the bulk of your website's content inside a Flash video, as Flash videos are uncrawlable)
  • Optimize your images to decrease your mobile page load time. While it is unknown if Google actually does uses page loading time as a ranking factor, it is always good to optimize your website for your mobile visitors. You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to find out how your website perform on mobile and desktop devices.

If my website is not mobile-friendly, will it affect my desktop rankings?

Google's answer is no.

The mobile-friendly ranking factor only affects your website in mobile search results – that's when users search for your website from the browser on their smartphones.

This doesn't affect searches from tablets and desktops because these devices have a larger screen, your desktop-version website, instead of your mobile-version, will be rendered in the search results.

But, you should still take some time to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

Is there a way to find the top mobile keywords?

You can always get some information from Google Webmaster Tools by filtering the keyword information to show mobile-only queries.

Finding your site on Google

Is there any way I can make my website content more search-friendly?


This is where Google Panda comes in. No, it's not a pet panda Google keeps at its headquarters. Google Panda is a Google algorithm that measures the quality of the content on a website – it filters and prevents low quality websites from ranking well in the search engine results.

So what does Google Panda like? Original, high-quality content that brings "additional value" to the web.

What does it mean? What counts as high-quality content?

According to Google, when assessing the quality of a website, these are the questions they ask:

  • Is the information presented trustworthy? Would you trust them with your credit card information?
  • Is the article written by an expert, a recognized authority or someone who knows the topic well? Is the content original?
  • Does the website have duplicate articles on the same or similar topic?
  • Are there any spelling or factual errors on the page?
  • Is the article written for actual readers and not search bots?
  • Does the content provide value to the reader?
  • Is the content widely posted anywhere else on the Internet?
  • Would you bookmark, share or recommend the page?
  • Is there an excessive amount of ads on the page?

In other words, create high-level, quality content for your websites. Focus on unique content (ie. don't copy another article from another website).

Avoid duplicated or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with the same or similar keywords. Also, make sure there aren't excessive use of ads, broken links and irrelevant content, and spell-check!

Finding your site on Google

Do I need to update my website regularly with fresh content?

The freshness factor is what lets Google give greater weight to newer content over older content for some search queries, especially searches related to trending topics, recurring events (ie. sports scores) and breaking news.

While the freshness factor mainly affects searches where the timeliness of information is important (ie. Oscar awards), there is still benefits to regularly updating your website with fresh content.

While fresh content doesn't mean high indexing by Google, the more frequently you update your website with fresh content, the more frequently a search bot will stop by to re-crawl your site. And the more frequently a search engine look at your site, the greater your chance of Google ranking your site higher, especially if you are regularly updating your website with reliable and valuable content.

What does it mean? What counts as high-quality content?


  1. More content, more keywords
    Frequently added content, such as blogs or article postings, let you optimize the content with valuable keywords that can attract visitors to your website. But make sure the keywords are relevant to the information and are naturally in place within the content. Never keyword-stuff your content – Google doesn't like that.
  2. Fresh content increases your authority potential and visitor loyalty
    When you add informative, relevant and valuable content to your website, especially on a particular topic, you become a stronger authority and people begin to trust what you say. The more they trust you, the more loyal they are to your website. Loyalty is one thing Google uses to measure how valuable your website is.

    Yes, the best way to add fresh content to your website is a blog. If you're not sure you can come up with that much material to publish as regularly as you would like, not to worry, instead of pumping out thin content every day, concentrate on posting one valuable, in-depth post weekly or even monthly. Google gives more points to content of value.

    Another way to add fresh content to your website is to add a little section on your page (say, homepage) where you post updated news or announcements for your visitors.
Finding your site on Google

What type of links do I need on my website?

Why are internal links important?

Internal links are links that go from one page to another page on your website. For example, the tabs on your site menu are internal links; or if you put a link on your website's homepage to a new article you have posted.

Internal links are important because allow for clear, easier navigation around your website, not just to site visitors but also search bots. Internal links on your website provide pathways for the search bots to explore and crawl your website.

Take a look at this example. Say, you have all these pages on your website. When a visitor or search bot reaches page A, they see internal links to pages B, C and D. From page B, it sees an internal link to page E; as well as internal links to page F from pages C and E. But what about page G? Because there is no direct link pointing to page G, your visitor and the search bot have no way of reaching it. You might have great content, good keyword targeting and great marketing on page G, but because it's unreachable from your website, it's useless (well, not completely useless but the impact is not as great).

So, when structuring your web pages, make sure all important pages are properly and clearly linked.

Why are inbound links important?

Inbound links are links coming from another website to your website. For example, if your visitors share your website on their Facebook, they are posting link to your website from their Facebook account. That link is then an inbound link – anyone clicking on that link on Facebook will be directed back to your website.

Websites that receive many inbound links are more likely to rank higher on search engines. Every time someone shares a link to your website, they are reinforcing your website's popularity and value.

But not all inbound links are the same. In order to benefit from inbound links, the link has to come from authoritative websites and it must use the proper anchor text.

Anchor text is a link label. It is the clickable text in a hyperlink. For example, say visitors are posting a link to your recipe blog:

Option 1: Click here for more recipes.
Option 2: The chocolate cake is scrumptious and absolutely delish!

Option 2 is a better anchor text because it looks more natural and it contains a keyword "chocolate cake".

Authority site is a very high quality website that is respected by knowledgeable people in its industry. Using the above example, an authority site for your chocolate cake link would be the Food Network Blog. The more inbound links you have from high quality, high authority sites, the more valuable your website is deemed.

Does Google have a limit on inbound links?

Not that we know of. But how fast you're building links is very important for any website, especially a new one. Introducing Google Penguin. Again, it's not an actual animal, but rather an algorithm that is designed to penalize websites that manipulate the number of inbound links. Google is highly suspicious of an influx of new links to any website. Often, you may see your rankings drop when new inbound links are added. The links need to pass the Google's quality test – once Google trusts your links, your ranking will recover.

Finding your site on Google

Should I use Facebook, Twitter or other social media websites to help my website's ranking on Google?


Google is limited in how much of the social web it can crawl (due to the huge amount of information it churns out– just the number of tweets per day is already well over 500 million). But it is believed that links from social media website can help your website's search ranking.

Here are some of the things that Google may take into account:

  • The number of tweets and retweets a URL has
  • The authority of the person tweeting/retweeting the URL
  • The number of Facebook Shares a URL has
  • The number of +1s a URL has

While the actual effects of the social factor on your search ranking is still unknown, it's never a bad idea to encourage your visitors to share your website using social media icons. Again, you are building the website for your visitors, not search bots, so any sharing through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms will help you gain exposure and build credibility.

Finding your site on Google

Now that my website is ready, how do I get my website onto Google?

Search bots crawl the Internet on a daily basis. But keep in mind, there are millions of websites on the Internet. Your site will be discovered by Google eventually, but you can certainly speed up the crawling and indexing process by submitting your website to Google. It's like waving hello to Google so that it knows your website exists.

You can submit your website to Google via Google Search Console.

Did you know that you can re-submit your website every time you make a change or update?

Bing and Google are separate search engines, so submitting your website to Google will have not effect on your search rankings on Bing. You will need to submit your website to Bing via Bing's Webmaster Toolbox.

Finding your site on Google

How can I check if my website has been indexed by Google?

You can check if your website has been indexed by Google by doing a search on Google.

The results will show all of your site's pages that have been indexed, as well as the current meta tags.

If none of your pages appear, then it means Google has not yet indexed your website. Maybe your site is too new and the search bots haven't gotten around to crawl your site yet. You can speed up the crawling process by submitting (or resubmitting) your website URL to Google again.

Hint: You can also submit individual page URLs.

Note: if you have a site-wide password or if your homepage is password-protected, search engines will not index it (search bots are blocked by your password). You can remove the password and then request an indexing by resubmitting your URL to Google.

Finding your site on Google

The wrong information is displaying in Google search results!

If you have recently made changes to your website or your site title/description and you are not seeing the changes in Google search results, it's likely because Google hasn't re-crawled and re-indexed your website since the changes were made.

Again, you can re-submit your website to Google every time you make a change or update. This should speed up the re-crawling and re-indexing process. (Ask Google to re-crawl your URLs).

This process also applies to Bing. If Bing is displaying the wrong information, use Bing Webmaster Tools to request a re-index.

Finding your site on Google

Will using high-quality images on my website help my search ranking?

Yes, it does. High-quality images supplement your content and make your webpage more appealing for human visitors, which can increase the number of clicks to your website. As we have mentioned earlier, the more visitors to your website and the higher the quality of your content, the more valuable Google sees you.

But does Google crawl and index images?

Yes. Google has a search bot whose main responsibility is to crawl and index images on the Internet – the Googlebot Images. This search bot crawls webpages to build and maintain Google's image index.

When you submit a search query on Google, you can choose to view all the image results. These image results are from Google's image index and the images are collected by Googlebot Images from all types of websites – blogs, media outlets, stock photo sites, etc.

(side note: In addition to the Googlebot and Googlebot Images, Google has 7 other different types of search bots, including Googlebot News, and Googlebot Video).

When the search bot comes across images on your webpages, it looks at the textual content of the page the image was found on for more information about the image. For example, the search bot will look at the page's title, the content around the image, the image's filename, anchor texts, and the image's alt text.

What is ALT text?

In the simplest term, the ALT text describes the images in words. When you add images to your webpage, you can specify different attributes of the image, such as width, height, border, etc. You can also add the ALT attribute (or ALT tag) to your image.

ALT stands for "alternative" because in the event that the image cannot be displayed by the browser (ie. broken image), the image will be replaced by a blank box and the text you've added to the ALT tag will be displayed.

The ALT text provides Google with useful information about the image. Google then uses this information to determine the best image to return for a user's query.

Each image should have an alt text, not just for the sake of Googlebot Images, but also because screen readers (browsers used by the blind and visually impaired people) rely on the ALT text to tell their users what is on the image.

What can I do to optimize my images for Google?

To help Google index your images, makes sure that:

  • you have included an ALT text for all your images
  • the ALT text describes the image in a human-friendly way (ie. don't keyword stuff the ALT tag)
  • the image is in one of the supported formats: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP or SVG
  • the image file name is related to the image's content

If you are wondering if there is a maximum file size for images, the answer is No, there is no file restriction – Google will index images of any size. But keep in mind, the larger the image file size, the longer it will take to load on your webpage.

Finding your site on Google

Would using a website builder affect my search rankings?

Are you referring to the incident where Wix websites were de-indexed by Google?

In early Oct 2015, it has been reported that web pages built with Wix were not being indexed and ranked by Google. Google confirmed the issue and had to revisit all the affected websites to get them re-indexed.

A number of reasons can be behind the de-indexing. Some suggested a problem with the Wix platform – that a specific tag that Wix adds to its websites is making Google think it's duplicate content. This speculation was only reinforced when Google announced that they would looking into the setup of Wix's sites to avoid same or similar incidents from happening again.

Will this happen to the website builder I am using?

Unless Google reveals the exact reason why the Wix sites were de-indexed, there is no way for anyone, website builder or not, to know if their website is going to be next. Besides, we have yet to hear about websites built by other website builders being de-indexed.

It shouldn't matter if you're using a website builder, WordPress or if you're hand-coding your website, you still have to make sure you're following the basic steps to improve your search ranking by:

  1. When writing content for your website, make sure it's written for the human reader. Original, unique content is always favored over thin, keyword-stuffed content.
  2. Use the title and description meta tags.
  3. Add ALT text to your images.
  4. Link your website to your social pages. Add social sharing buttons so your visitors can easily share your web page(s).
  5. Carefully and clearly link all your pages on your website.
  6. Be realistic with your goals. If you are a New York based baker, you are not going to show up at the top of the search results for "bakery" or "cake". But if you use keywords wisely, you could end up at the top of "New York gluten-free bakery."

And always remember, if visitors aren't staying on your website, then there's a good chance that your website is not valuable. If visitors don't think your website is valuable, Google won't value your website either. High-quality content is the key.