Getting Started in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When you created your website, you probably did so with your users in mind, making it easy for them to find and explore your content. Among these users is a search engine, which helps Internet users discover your content. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about helping search engines interpret your content, and helping web users find your site and decide whether or not to access it via a search engine.

The Search Essentials describe the most important elements for your website to appear in Google search. We can’t guarantee that a specific site will be added to the Google index, but sites that respect the Search Essentials are more likely to appear in Google search results. SEO is about taking the next step and working on improving your site’s presence in search results. This guide introduces you to some of the most common and effective improvements you can make to your site.

There’s no secret to automatically ranking your site first on Google (sorry!). Some suggestions may not even apply to your business, but following good practice should enable search engines (and not just Google) to crawl, index and rank your site.

How long do I have to wait before the impact is visible in search results?

Every change you make takes some time to be reflected in Google search. Some changes can be implemented in a matter of hours, while others can take several months. In general, it’s best to wait a few weeks to assess whether your work has had a beneficial effect on Google search results. Bear in mind that not every change you make to your website will have a noticeable impact on search results. If you’re not satisfied with your results, and your business strategies allow it, try other modifications to see if they make a difference.

Helping Google find your content

Before applying any of the suggestions in this section, check to see if Google has already found your content (perhaps you don’t need to do anything). Try searching for your site on Google with site: search operator. If you find that the results point to your site, this means you’re in the index. For example, a search for returns these results. If your site doesn’t appear, check the technical requirements to make sure there’s nothing technically preventing it from appearing in Google search, then return to this page.

Google mainly finds pages using links from other pages it has already crawled. In many cases, these are other websites linking to your pages. The presence of links to your site in other sites occurs naturally over time. You can also promote your site to encourage visitors to discover your content.

If you’re open to a little technical challenge, you can also send a sitemap. This is a file containing all the important URLs for your site. Some content management systems (CMS) can even do this for you automatically. However, this is not mandatory. The first thing to do is to make sure that visitors are familiar with your site.

Check that Google can see your page as users see it

When Google crawls a page, it should ideally be able to see the page in the same way as an average Internet user. To achieve this, Google must be able to access the same resources as the user’s browser. If your website hides some of its important components (such as CSS and JavaScript elements), Google may not be able to understand your pages, which means they may not appear in search results or rank well for your target terms.

If your pages display different information depending on the user’s location, make sure that the information visible to Google from its crawler’s geographic zone (usually the USA) is appropriate for you.

To check how Google sees your page, use Search Console’s URL inspection tool

Don’t want a page to show up in Google search results?
You may want to disable the display of all or certain parts of your site in search results. For example, you may not want messages about your embarrassing new haircut to appear in search results. Google allows you to disable the crawling and indexing of your URLs in a number of ways. If you need to block certain files, directories or even your entire site from appearing in Google search, check out our guide to preventing content from appearing in search results.

Organizing your site

When you’re changing the configuration of your site, or completely redesigning it, it can be a good idea to organize it in a logical way. This can help search engines and visitors understand the relationship between your pages and the rest of your site. Don’t do away with everything but start reorganizing your site right away: even if these suggestions don’t make sense, they’re still worthwhile.

Organizing your site

When you change the configuration of your site, or completely redesign it, it’s a good idea to organize it in a logical way. This can help search engines and web users understand the relationship between your pages and the rest of your site. Don’t do away with everything but start reorganizing your site now: while these suggestions may be useful in the long term (especially if you’re working on a large-scale website), search engines will probably understand your pages as they are now, regardless of how your site is organized.

Use descriptive URLs.

Parts of the URL can be displayed in search results as breadcrumbs. Users can then use URLs to determine whether a result will be useful to them.

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