If you have a brand new website, it is going to take about two to four weeks before your website appears in the search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, and Bing). While you can’t force the search engines to display your website high in the search results, there are a few steps you can take to help the search engines index your site more efficiently and appropriately.
This article offers seven tips from basic (anyone can do it) to advanced (some HTML experience and/or knowledge plugins is helpful) that you can start implementing today:
- Set your new website to “public.”
- Submit your website to the search engines.
- Add content to your site using keywords.
- Add your address to your home, contact, and about us page.
- Submit your website to local search directories.
- Wrap your address using the <address> HTML tags (advanced).
- Create and submit an XML sitemap to the search engines (advanced).
1. Set your new website to “public”
Let’s begin by tackling the easiest problem—making sure your website is not preventing the search engines from indexing it.
- Log in to the site
- Click on “Settings”
- Click on “Privacy”
- Check “I would like my site to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers”
- Click “Save Changes”
2. Submit your website to the search engines
If your site is brand new then the search engines do not know your domain name or website even exist…so let’s go tell them by submitting your website URL (e.g. www.your-church-domain.com) to the following three search engines:
- Google – http://www.google.com/addurl
- Yahoo – http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit/ (click on Submit a Website or Webpage)
- Bing – http://www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx
(Keep in mind this step does not guarantee your site will be indexed, but it may help.)
3. Add content to your site using keywords
Search engines like Google look for “keywords” in your website content to help determine what the site is about. If you are a Baptist Church in Athens and your site does not use the words Baptist, Church, or Athens, then it’s unlikely you will show up in search results when someone used those keywords to search.
These keywords should be added throughout your site, but use the keywords naturally, not in a forced sort of way. Compare this forced use of keywords:
Thank you for visiting the Athens Baptist Church website in Athens, Georgia. We are a Baptist Church that serves the Athens, Georgia community through prayer, fellowship, and various outreach activities.
to this more natural use of keywords:
Thank you for visiting the Athens Baptist Church website. You are invited to join us during our following services:
Sunday 9:30-11:30 AM
Wednesday 7:00-8:30 PM
Which one would you rather read? I’m guessing you chose the latter, natural reading sentence.
4. Add your address to your home, contact, and about us page
The next step is to make sure the website includes your address:
Athens Baptist Church
123 Any Street
Athens, GA, 30605
We recommend putting this on the home page as well as the contact page. If you are comfortable with a little HTML, read #6 now.
5. Submit your website to local search directories
Since your church serves a specific area, it make sense to add your church to local directories. This will take some more time than submitting the URL (as instructed in #2 above), but it is well worth the time. You can expect to spend around 20-30 minutes adding your church to each directory
- Google - http://www.google.com/places/ click on “Get Started” under Get your business found on Google.
- Yahoo – http://listings.local.yahoo.com/basic.php Yahoo offers two options: Free and Paid; you only need to use the Free option.
- Bing – http://www.bing.com/businessportal/
- Best of the Web Local – http://local.botw.org/helpcenter/jumpstartproduct.aspx
These listings will require you to confirm the information, either by accepting a phone call or a postcard with a code. Once you have that code, be sure to update the listing or it will not display in the local search results.
6. Wrap your address using the <address> HTML tags
If you are comfortable adding HTML, then here is a little trick that may help your site be indexed faster and more appropriately. Instead of just typing in the address, wrap the address in the <address> HTML tags. Here’s how:
- Edit your webpage with an address.
- Click on the “View Source” tab
- Add <address> at the start of the address and </address> at the end of the address like this:
<address>Athens Baptist Church
123 Any Street
Athens, GA, 30605</address>
7. Create and submit a XML sitemap to the search engines
Because WordPress is the Content Management System (CMS) used to manage your website, you have access to many plugins. One useful plugin is for automatically creating a search engine friendly (XML) sitemap. These should install and configure without trouble. Here are a few to choose from:
Most of the sitemap generators will automatically submit the XML sitemap to the main search engines. If not, you can submit the sitemap to Google Webmaster Central at http://www.google.com/webmasters/.
Good luck with your new website!